American Tabloid Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of American Tabloid

AMERICAN TABLOID, the first part of the Underworld U.S.A. trilogy has been published in 1995.
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Ellroy alternates three different points of view describing the 1958-1962 period. There's Kemper Boyd's, a FBI agent sent by Edgar G. Hoover into the Kennedy's family circle in order to get informations about the intentions of John and Robert Kennedy. Kemper Boyd becomes a fervent admirer of the new President and has some difficulties to reconcile his task for the Minister of Justice Robert Kennedy, his ties with the bosses of the american mafia and his C.I.A. engagement among the anticastrist groups.

There's also the point of view of Pete Bondurant, a canadian hitman who's sharing the esteem of Jimmy Hoffa and the main figures of the mob. He's hired by Kemper Boyd to train the men who will be the heroes of the Bay of Pigs' affair. He'll convince the mob to finance this operation for the C.I.A. in order to get back the Havana casinos.

Finally, there is Ward Littell, a close friend of Kemper Boyd who desperately hopes to rejoin the Kennedy clan he's always admired. He'll steal the hidden accounting books of the mafia but is broken by Edgar G. Hoover who describes him as an alcoholic to Robert Kennedy. Dreaming of revenge, he'll become then the lawyer of the main figures of the american mob.
The review of this Book prepared by Daniel Staebler

Chapter Analysis of American Tabloid

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book descript. of violence and chases 50%Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 20%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 10%How society works & physical descript. (people, objects, places) 20% Tone of story    -   very upbeat Time/era of story:    -   1960's-1970's Spying/Terrorism Thriller    -   Yes Cloak & Dagger Plotlets:    -   power struggle within govt between two factions Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book The crook is....    -   commit white collar fraud or con Crime Thriller    -   Yes Who's the terrorist enemy here?    -   evil subgroup in own govt Is MAIN CHARACTER an EVIL criminal?    -   Yes General Crime (including known murderer)    -   Yes Who's the criminal enemy here?    -   breaking up mobsters

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   thief/con artist Age:    -   40's-50's Ethnicity/Race    -   White/American


United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Northeast    -   Southeast    -   Deep South    -   California The Americas (not US):    -   Yes The Americas:    -   The Caribbean    -   Central City?    -   Yes City:    -   Los Angeles    -   dangerous    -   rude people    -   Washington D.C.    -   Miami    -   Chicago Misc setting    -   fort/military installation

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   very gorey references to deaths/dead bodies and torture Explicit sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   descript of kissing    -   licking    -   actual description of sex    -   descript. of breasts    -   descript. of other female areas    -   descript. of male nudity Unusual forms of death    -   boiling    -   diced    -   flamed    -   decapitated    -   perforation--bullets    -   perforation--swords/knives Unusual form of death?    -   Yes Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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James Ellroy Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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