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on 1 July 2017
I recently re read American Tabloid. The two books that preceded it were brilliant but the ones that follow are not. I tend to read more than one book at a time and I have been reading Ellroy some days and John le Carre on others. The contrast in style is exquisite. I do not think that there is a sentence longer than five words; conversation excepted. i found that this made me read too quickly and only by consciously slowing down was I able to pick up some of the nuances.
American tabloid is tightly plottted and Ellroy ties up his loose ends neatly. The weaving of fiction into history works well, even if it is fanciful to say the least.
This is a book written by a man, mainly about men. Very very bad men. And yet I was able to identify with the three main characters. They "compartmentalise"; doing bad things followed by good things. Their moral ambivalence is unsustainable which is one of the main parts of the story. We are only given the briefest physical descriptions so I had to make them up myself.
Ellroy is boyishly awkward in writing about women; again there are three main women who are much better people than their paramores. No happy endings for them either.
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on 1 December 2014
A clever working of history and fiction. Ellroy weaves the Mob, the Kennedys, Hoover and Hoffa in a fast paced, very robust story. The book attempts to get behind the rumours of Mob involvement in JFK's rise, the rise of Castro and the CIA's ruthless and amoral operations in the late 50s and early sixties.
I chose it as a holiday read and that is what it is. It comes in bite size chapters and moves along at a fair clip.The protagonists are all larger than life and above the law.The language and views expressed sound harsh to modern ears: I did not realise what a PC softie I had become. Ellroy does not shy from using language to describe matters of race and class in a way that one might find objectionable if it came from the mouths of contemporary characters.
If this narrative does reflect the reality of the US of half a century ago it makes a lie of the idea of the land of the free.it is not a flattering portrayal of the USA.
I had few expectations of this book and I have been pleasantly surprised: it is a good read. The "jive" talk grates at times but this is because seems to switch from being a fast paced thriller to having 50s "beat" language salted in to it but that is me being picky.

To be candid it could be a bit shorter: it spins it's wheel at times and editing would have helped but for an intelligent beach read I could highly recommend it.
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on 2 August 2017
Same as my previous James Ellroy review, this is due a re read.
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on 27 November 2013
Its a long slog of a read, with very small print. However its a fantastic book that I thoroughly enjoyed! Highly recommend to anyone with an interest in organised crime, American history, conspiracy and a pinch of sex and violence thrown into the mix!
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on 24 July 2017
By far one of the greatest crime trilogies of all time, gritty nasty and brilliant. Ellroy stands head and shoulders above his peers.
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on 16 April 2009
Ellroy deserves his reputationa as arguably the finest American writer alive today. This is a big book, physically and in terms oc scale and scope. It takes the pivotal 1960's period of American political history and the assasination of JFK as the backdrop for a stunning thriller novel.

Ellroy's famous pared down and austere writing style is not to everyone's taste but in this book it offers weight and atmosphere to the descriptive writing. The dialogue is tremendous and underlying sense of realism throughout the book means depsite it's considerable lenght it rattles along at a pace.

If you like crime, thrillers and political intrigue and a real event back drop then this book will be the finest you read.
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VINE VOICEon 9 March 2015
Bondurant, Boyd and Littell. Three men who think they are in control of their own destiny. Three men however we find out who are not. Three men who are caught up in the earth shaking events of the late 50's and early 60's. The Mafia, the Kennedys, Hoover and the FBI, the CIA, Howard Hughes. An all star cast of larger than life historical figures appear as Ellroy weaves a terrific story of crime and duplicity building up to the fateful day in Dallas in one of his finest books.
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on 19 May 2017
I still don't know how I managed to finish this book; it seemed to take forever. Many times I felt like throwing in the towel but I kept ploughing on thinking it would soon become the book everyone seemed to rave about. In the end it was simply an endurance trial without enjoyment. Please tell me how this book is rated so highly? There is no character development, no tension and release, no light and shade and, underlying it all, prose that often simply does not make sense. Very, very disappointing, irritating and annoying.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 24 February 2016
This is an extraordinary mixture of violence, corruption and immorality on a staggering scale. It bombards the reader for 600 pages in a style which, apart from dialogue and correspondence, is utterly sparse and devoid of description or detail.

It creates a portrait of American politics, and crime, including the people supposed to be fighting it, that is so corrupt, so horrible, that it is fascinating to read and makes you want to believe it. It doesn't just say the assassination of JFK was a conspiracy, it says everything is a conspiracy, so that by the time you have read the first 90% of the book, you feel there is no way the assassination could be anything but a conspiracy. Except of course that the book, despite creating a factual feel by including conversations and actions of real people, is ultimately fiction.

I would give it 5 stars for its audacity, for the fun it offers in allowing oneself to be drawn in - but ultimately it is flawed because not only is it largely fantasy but the reader has no idea where the borders of fantasy and reality lie. It is impossible to know what to take away from it. I would like to believe that powerful people were really as bad as that - it would make me feel good about my own mediocre existence. And sure, there are some real rogues in the world and politicians cheat and lie and so do a lot of other people do in more mundane positions. But really, that many of them? To that degree? With that little reflection and remorse? No, it is just a fantasy. A great read, but a fantasy.

At one point Pete Bondurant asks himself how many men he has shot. 300, he thinks. Then he moves on with barely a shrug.

A couple of quotes to give you a flavour:

"Kemper shot him in the mouth. A full clip took his head off."
Apart from a short conversation leading up to it, that is the entire episode.

"Seconds took years, minutes took f*****g millenniums. Pete scratched his b*lls raw."
A touch exaggerated (I hope)

As others have complained, it is at times difficult to follow, largely because the cast is enormous. I recommend reading it over a short period unless you have a superhuman memory for names.
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on 21 March 2012
Welcome to the maelstrom. America pre Kennedy assasination - briefly, Feds in bed with the mob, Taps before Watergate...
LA Confidential seemed almost quaint in its historic distance, this feels much closer. The grounding as ever is in the characters of all concerned, and the areas they try to influence - why and how.
As barbed critique of the "swinging" 60's this is stunning. The blurring of fact and fiction compelling, and not at all comfort making. Much is made of Elroy' characters not being likeable, whilst none of these are - they are credible, and fallible. Sympathy is not what he is out to elicit.
The nagging doubt? will "the truth" ever come out? Getting the questions across again is no mean feat in itself, positting some wonderful potential "reasons" with such a labyrnthine cast (Howard Hughes J E H) and plot is stunning entertainment.
12 out of 10 = Top Table and all the trimmings.
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