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Norman Mailer: Four Books of the 1960s

No writer plunged more vigorously into the chaotic energies of the 1960s than Norman Mailer, fearlessly revolutionizing literary norms and genres to capture the decade’s political, social, and sexual explosions.

Declaring himself to have “the mind of an outlaw,” he adhered closely to his own vision of what it meant to be a writer.

In a way uniquely his own, he merged the public and the private, the personal and the political, taking risks with every sentence. Here, for the first time in a single volume, are four of his most extraordinary works.

War hero, television star, existential hipster, seducer, murderer: such is Stephen Rojack, the hero of An American Dream (1965), Mailer’s hallucinatory voyage through the dark night of an America awash in money, sex, and violence.

Mailer challenged himself by serializing the book while he was still writing it, an approach he compared to “ten-second chess.” The result is a fever dream of a novel, navigating through the most extreme fears and fantasies of a culture hooked on power.

In Why Are We in Vietnam? (1967) a motor-mouthed eighteen-year-old Texan on the eve of military service recounts an exclusive grizzly bear hunt in Alaska with an obscene exuberance that finally comes close to horror. Although the word “Vietnam” appears only on the book’s final page, the whole work is imbued with a sense of frantic bloodthirstiness that exposes the macho roots of the war.

With the acclaimed “non-fiction novel” The Armies of the Night (1968), an account of the October 1967 anti-Vietnam War march on the Pentagon, Mailer brought a new approach to journalism, casting himself (“he would have been admirable, except that he was an absolute egomaniac, a Beast”) as a player in the drama as he reported, alongside a stunning gallery of student activists, politicians, intellectuals, and policemen. Winning both the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award, The Armies of the Night immediately established itself as an essential record of its moment.

In Miami and the Siege of Chicago (1968) Mailer continued his eyewitness chronicle of American political life, embedding himself at the 1968 Republican and Democratic presidential conventions and drawing unforgettable portraits of Richard Nixon, Nelson Rockefeller, Lyndon Johnson, Eugene McCarthy, and many others. His reading of the nation’s political undercurrents continues to surprise with its relevance.

J. Michael Lennon, editor, emeritus professor of English at Wilkes University, is Norman Mailer’s archivist, editor, and authorized biographer, and president of the Norman Mailer Society. His books include Norman Mailer: A Double Life (2013) and Selected Letters of Norman Mailer (2014).

This Library of America series edition is printed on acid-free paper and features Smyth-sewn binding, a full cloth cover, and a ribbon marker.

Norman Mailer: Four Books of the 1960s (LOA #305):
-An American Dream
-Why Are We in Vietnam?
-The Armies of the Night
-Miami and the Siege of Chicago
Hardcover
March 13, 2018
by Norman Mailer (Author)
J. Michael Lennon (Editor)
937 pages
ISBN: 978-1-59853-558-7
Library of America Series
N° 305
LOA books are distributed worldwide by Penguin Random House
List Price: $45.00

LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation’s literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America’s best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.

# new books
Norman Mailer:
Four Books of the 1960s (LOA #305):
-An American Dream
-Why Are We in Vietnam?
-The Armies of the Night
-Miami and the Siege of Chicago

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