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Oswald's Tale: An American Mystery

Oswald's Tale: An American Mystery


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Description for OSWALD'S TALE: AN AMERICAN MYSTERY by Norman Mailer:

In this book, Norman Mailer asks the essential question about the assassination of JFK: not "Who killed Kennedy?" but "Who was Oswald?" for only by answering the latter question can we hope to answer the first. In 1959, Lee Harvey Oswald defected to the Soviet Union and was sent to Minsk, where he lived for two and a half years and remained under constant KGB surveillance, on suspicion of being a CIA agent. In 1993, Norman Mailer spent six months in Russia, where he interviewed Oswald's former friends and sweethearts and obtained exclusive interviews with the KGB officers assigned to monitor Oswald's every move. He was also given exclusive access to the KGB files on Oswald, including transcripts of conversations overheard in the apartment that Lee shared with his Russian wife, Marina.

In OSWALD'S TALE: AN AMERICAN MYSTERY, Mailer reconstructs the life of this ambitious if doom-laden young man, giving a full account for the first time not only of the Minsk years, a hitherto uncharted period in Oswald's life, but also of Oswald's disastrous childhood, his years in the Marine Corps, and the events leading from his return to the United States in 1961 to his death in Dallas in 1963. The portrait of Oswald that emerges will greatly surprise readers who have thought of Oswald as a hapless loner; socially awkward, inarticulate, and an unremarkable loser.

Mailer writes this his portrait of Oswald depends upon "the small revelations of separate point of view." In Russia, these include Rimma, the fiercely patriotic Intourist guide who met the ninteen-year-old Oswald on his arrival in the USSR and helped him obtain Soviet papers; Igor and Stepan, the earnest KGB agents assigned to track Oswald's every move; and the strong-willed defiant Marina, who dreamed of a more exciting life than that offered by provincial Minsk and married Oswald to broaden her horizons. In America, they include Oswald's formidable mother, Marguerite: the charming and elusive CIA "resource" Baron George De Mohrenschildt; and the pathetic Jack Ruby, whose motives Mailer analyzes brilliantly.

OSWALD'S TALE: AN AMERICAN MYSTERY is a nonfiction masterpiece, a work of meticulous research and reportage, but the reporter in this case is our most distinguished novelist, who comes to the task not only with a sober respect for the facts, but with a novelist's power to bring these facts to vibrant life.

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