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Miami and the Siege of Chicago [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   223
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 4.75" Height: 8.25"
Weight:   0.55 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jul 15, 2008
Publisher   NYRB Classics
ISBN  1590172965  
EAN  9781590172964  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
1968. The Vietnam War was raging. President Lyndon Johnson, facing a challenge in his own Democratic Party from the maverick antiwar candidate Eugene McCarthy, announced that he would not seek a second term. In April, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and riots broke out in inner cities throughout America. Bobby Kennedy was killed after winning the California primary in June. In August, Republicans met in Miami, picking the little-loved Richard Nixon as their candidate, while in September, Democrats in Chicago backed the ineffectual vice president, Hubert Humphrey. TVs across the country showed antiwar protesters filling the streets of Chicago and the police running amok, beating and arresting demonstrators and delegates alike.
In Miami and the Siege of Chicago, Norman Mailer, America's most protean and provocative writer, brings a novelist's eye to bear on the events of 1968, a decisive year in modern American politics, from which today's bitterly divided country arose.
"Mailer was a poet laureate of the punch, and this classic New Journalism--style report on the '68 conventions sizes up presidential wanna-bes as if they were a batch of second-rate palookas... His descriptions alone are reason to read this still-relevant book." --Time Out New York

"Don't skim...if you dash your way through 'Miami and the Siege of Chicago,' Mailer's masterful account of the upheaval that occurred 40 years ago when Republicans and Democrats met in those two cities, there to select their presidential nominees, you'll miss a lot. First published in 1968, and reissued earlier this month by New York Review Books, Mailer's report glows with descriptions of the people and the places whose permanent identities were forged in the hot furnace of that tragic, fateful year. To understand 1968, you must read Mailer..." --Chicago Tribune

"Our Democratic primaries are run the way they are now mainly because of the way they were run then...The almost-closing line of the book is the prediction that Mailer wishes he had made to Eugene McCarthy's daughter: 'Dear Miss, we will be fighting for forty years.' He got that right, among many other things." --Christopher Hitchens, The Atlantic

"The nostalgic or the curious can seek out Norman Mailer's Miami and the Siege of Chicago...which analyzed events inside and beyond the convention hall with its author's characteristic, and in this case perfectly appropriate, blend of intellectual grandiosity and journalistic acumen." --A. O. Scott, The New York Times

One "of the era's definitional books." --The Nation

"Wrong as often as he was right, Mailer seems so brave precisely because he was so ready to risk looking foolish. In Miami and the Siege of Chicago, which he wrote on assignment for Harper's, Mailer was not only perfectly attuned to the moment but prescient." --The Boston Phoenix

"Dazzling accounts of the Republican and Democratic party conventions of 1968..."--Newsday

"For historians who wish for the presence of a world-class literary witness at crucial
moments in history, Mailer in Miami and Chicago was heaven-sent." -The Washington

"This is an excellent account of the conventions...Mailer sets the scene sensually like Dickens...his vignettes have imperial authority." -The New York Times Book Review

A "triumphantly vivid work of journalism." -Book World

"A political classic" -The Boston Globe

"This is Mailer's classic account of the Democratic and Republican conventions of
1968. It is an insightful portrayal of the politicians and the turbulent time." -United Press International

"A tense balance between social and literary observation which often reads like a good, old-fashioned novel in which suspense, character, plot revelations, and pungently describable action abound...The peculiar power of these books comes not from the fact that Mailer offers us better writing than that to which we are generally accustomed in politics, but, rather, from the uncanny way in which he has managed to maintain in these works the stylistic play and form of the most complex literary fiction." -The New York Review of Books (reviewed with The Armies of the Night)
Norman Mailer (1923-2007) was the author of more than thirty books, including The Naked and the Dead; The Armies of the Night, for which he won a National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize; The Executioner's Song, for which he won his second Pulitzer Prize; and The Castle in the Forest.

Frank Rich is a columnist for The New York Times. His latest book is The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth from 9/11 to Katrina.

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More About Norman Mailer

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Born in 1923 in Long Branch, New Jersey, and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Norman Mailer was one of the most influential writers of the second half of the twentieth century and a leading public intellectual for nearly sixty years. He is the author of more than thirty books. The Castle in the Forest, his last novel, was his eleventh New York Times bestseller. His first novel, The Naked and the Dead, has never gone out of print. His 1968 nonfiction narrative, The Armies of the Night, won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. He won a second Pulitzer for The Executioner s Song and is the only person to have won Pulitzers in both fiction and nonfiction. Five of his books were nominated for National Book Awards, and he won a lifetime achievement award from the National Book Foundation in 2005. Mr. Mailer died in 2007 in New York City."

Norman Mailer lived in Brooklyn, in the state of New York. Norman Mailer was born in 1923 and died in 2007.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Mailer's Genius   Sep 4, 2008
We've all heard the remark used too often to describe an egocentric's prerogative to
to be self-consumed and reticent to acknowledge the rights and opinions of fellow citizens: " It's his (her)world, we're just living in it..." There are infinite variations and elaborations , all headed for the same punchline no matter the navigation the teller chooses, with hardly an improvement on the insight. The phrase, in fact, is stale and in need of retirement.

The phase had been used recently in a chat I had recently with someone regarding the re-release of Norman Mailer's account of the 1968 Republican and Democratic Conventions, and the mention made me want reach for the imaginary lever for the equally imaginary trap door down which the utterer of petrified phrases would fall, the bottom chamber of which they would remain until they appreciate that cliches are no substitute for an original aside, a choice metaphor, a wild ride of associations that prove that one has been paying attention to the events about them.

Paying attention is precisely what the literary journalist in his nonfiction writings, and what Miami and the Seige of Chicago (blessedly reissued by NYR Books)shows is that for all his self-obsession, Mailer was no mere narcissistic punk considering the world his realm and its inhabitants his subjects. What gives the narrative its tension is Mailer's knack for addressing the world as he thinks it used to be what it ought to become and then confronting blunt facts that won't bend to his wishes, give in to his whims, follow a script he might have written.

Mailer is a counter puncher, to use his parlance, someone who reacts with a mind that brings details , thesis and counter thesis , call and response into spinning loops of image-saturated language. Miami/Seige , like a good amount of the nonfiction Mailer wrote during the sixties and seventies, is a richly nuanced , feverishly grandiloquent mid century reversal of Whitman's latter day desire to contain multitudes and find himself in each breath , phrase and circumstance of every American's story; Mailer, an early idealist who wanted to forge a revolution in the consciousness of the nation, as he announced in Advertisements for Myself, refuses bitterness and despair when his designs become moot and embraces ambivalence and irony instead.

This makes for a desireable place from which to wrestle with the things that irritate his senses and insult his intelligence.
Blasts from the Passed  Sep 9, 2003
In August 1968 Norman Mailer attended the Republican Convention in Miami, then the Democratic Convention in Chicago. The past 35 years allows retrospection on his reports. Agnew and Nixon resigned in disgrace, and much has changed since 1968. Reagan has come and gone, elected past his prime. ("I don't know." Chapter 15.) Mailer attended the meetings to give his impression of the candidates and their supporters. Mailer's description of the hot humid air of Miami shows his literary ability and style. I swam through the waves of purple prose until I got seasick. These relentless waves carried my exhausted mind onto the sands of countless words. Mailer's quotes from Nixon's speech shows what a rhetorician Nixon was. Nixon "gave one impression and acted upon another"; but "when his language was examined, one could not call him a liar" (Chapter 14). Hence the name "Tricky Dick".

"Chicago is the great American city"; Mailer explains why. His description of a slaughterhouse again shows his rich literary style. Mailer backed Kennedy; he admired the mixture of idealism and trafficking with the overlords of corruption. Politics is property, you never give away something for nothing. If a politician is his own man, then he is ill-equipped for the game of politics (Chapter 6). Mailer says LBJ controlled the convention via Mayor Daley. It was the bitterest, most violent, disorderly, and uncontrolled in decades. Mailer analyzes the behavior of the candidates: Humphrey, McCarthy, McGovern, and others. Mailer discusses the protesters that came to Chicago, and the many organizations behind them. How many of the protesters were undercover agents? Why was the Democratic Convention a target? Was there manipulation of the protest organizations? Chapter 12 ends by saying the police targeted new photographers to avoid future evidence. Chapter 16 tells of the one-sided battle at Michigan and Balbo Avenues. Chapter 26 tells how Mailer was punched and almost arrested.

Mailer's description of the Convention listed many names who have passed from politics into the history books. Mailer puts a lot of himself into these reports; this is like a magazine article, not a newspaper story.

Good For Historians Of The Period  Mar 25, 2002
This book is a true curio of the times, of interest mostly to historians of the period. Mailer fails to describe the details of what went on at the conventions, although he does give the reader `a feel' for events, and some of the snapshots he provides are good, especially those of the violence and terror of Chicago. In the end, the reader will be disappointed, both because of the failure to completely describe what is happening and because of the writer's verbose style and intrusive narrative devices. The writing style definitely is distracting and confusing, Mailers tendency to use bizarre metaphors and long wordy descriptions provides confusion rather than clarity. Recommended only as a companion piece to books like `The Making Of The President 1968'by White and McGinnnis' `Selling Of The President 1968'.
mildly interesting  Nov 22, 2000
There's something really disconcerting about reading the nonfiction of Tom Wolfe and John McPhee wherein they describe events at which they are clearly in attendance but write in the third person. Someone must be overhearing the conversation that Wolfe so brilliantly reproduces and when folks describe their jobs in a McPhee essay, one assumes they are describing them to McPhee. Their absence from the text then becomes more intrusive than their presence would be, but, what the hey, they're two of the best writers of non-fiction ever to come down the pike, so we cut them some slack. Infinitely more annoying is the way that every hack writer on Earth who is assigned to write a profile of someone for a magazine, begins the piece by describing his own first meeting with the subject of the story, as if we freakin' care that the author ordered the shitaki on melba toast and Demi was ten minutes late for the interview. But topping them all for the most aggravating technique ever created is Norman Mailer who decided to include himself in his nonfiction but to write about himself in the third person, as "the reporter." This is not only a distraction when you are reading, it also just smacks of egotism run amok. Of course, this is Norman Mailer, the biggest publicity whore this side of Madonna, so that's exactly what it is, the attention grabbing stunt of a completely self-absorbed horse's rump.

That said, he does make for an irreverent, even ribald, chronicler of the 1968 conventions. His celebrity opened doors for him and gave him access to the placid doings of the GOP conclave in Miami and to the Democratic melee in Chicago. He uses his own distinctive patois of street tough language, acerbic commentary and apocalyptic hyperbole to recreate the mood, if not the actual events of the two conventions. But his analysis of events is completely laughable, teetering between the merely absurd and the genuinely deluded. Naturally, he revels in both the counter culture demonstrations in Chicago and in the somewhat heavy-handed response of Mayor Daley's police and the National Guard. Like Charlie Manson believing that Helter Skelter would bring about the revolution, Mailer thought that this kind of confrontation and the reaction it provoked revealed something about the strength of the youth movement on the one hand and weakness of American institutions on the other. In fact, these were pretty much the death throes of '60s radicalism. Just a few months later the American people would go to the polls and elect Richard Nixon, largely on the understanding that he would restore law and order to American society. And though his margin of victory was quite thin, it must be recalled that George Wallace received 13.5% of the vote; and I think it's safe to say that his voters disagreed with the kids who tried shutting down Chicago. Even as Mailer was predicting a new and glorious phase in some kind of class struggle, the electorate, the "silent majority" of Nixon's acceptance speech, was preparing to repudiate the radical movement by a truly staggering margin.

Interestingly, Mailer accidentally offers intimations of what was going on in the rest of the country when he is too revealing about what was going on within himself. The two most honest moments in the book are when he expresses how sick he is of listening to the demands of Black leaders:

[T]he reporter became aware after a while of a curious emotion in himself, for he had not ever felt it consciously before--it was a simple emotion and very unpleasant to him--he was getting tired of Negroes and their rights. It was a miserable recognition, and on many a count, for if even he felt this way, then what immeasurable tides of rage must be loose in America itself?

Note both the utter condescension to the unwashed masses and the visceral sense that things had gone far enough. Add in the fact that most Americans were also sick of listening to limousine liberals like Norman Mailer tell them what to do, when they knew perfectly well that he felt like this in his heart of hearts, and the rage is only compounded. Mailer's slip peeks out again during the violence in Chicago when he acknowledges an illicit thrill at watching the police hammer protesters into submission. These instances offer him a chance to understand what is truly going on in the country, but his knees jerk and he goes right back to singing a Dionysian song of praise to the scum in the streets.

A journalist who gets so involved in a story that he misjudges it by as much as Mailer did is hardly worthy of the title. Instead, the author was a partisan observer whose analytical skills appear to be nonexistent and whose judgment appears to have been clouded by emotion, but whose hands on approach to the story makes for a whiff of the atmospherics of the time and some mildly interesting moments.


VINTAGE MAILER  Jul 18, 1998
What is striking about 1968 in that political sense is that Daley of Chicago, a Democrat, is the recipient of more wrath from liberal writers than Richard Nixon. You remember him: The guy who went on to win it all that year, expanded the war, and broke a myriad of laws in the scandals that come under one word, Watergate. Mailer, who writes with the talented journalist's eye, beats up on Daley more than Nixon. I guess you couldn't do anything about Nixon. It's like going to a football game and heckling the head coach of your favorite team: The guy who is giving the game away.



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