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Miami and the Siege of Chicago (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – July 15, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


"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)

About the Author

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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Product Details

  • Series: New York Review Books Classics
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: NYRB Classics (July 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590172965
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590172964
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #616,192 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 3, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is the essential companion to The Armies Of The Night--it tells about the conventions of 1968 in Miami & Chicago, & how the latter turned into a riot. Unlike Armies Of The Night, however, the writing isn't peaking, & Mailer isn't on the front. Instead, he's being a journalist (& a good one at that!)
For anybody interested in this side of American history, this book is a must. The part on Nixon being elected in Miami is the weakest part--read it quickly. The real beef lies in the second part on the Democrat convention in Chicago. You'll get shocks, laughs, everything you've come to expect from Norman Mailer.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By K.A.Goldberg on February 11, 2011
Format: Paperback
Norman Mailer brings his descriptive style to the two Presidential nominating conventions of 1968. The author begins with modest coverage of the staid Republicans in Miami, where Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, Nelson Rockefeller, and Ronald Reagan held court. Then we read of the contentious gathering of Democrats in Chicago. Here the key figures were Hubert Humphrey, President Lyndon Johnson (in abstention), Eugene McCarthy, George McGovern, the late Bobby Kennedy, plus thousands of anti-war protesters. At the convention pro and anti Vietnam delegates argued and caucused. But sensing the real story was in the streets and in Grant Park, Mailer describes the police and national guardsmen battling anti-war demonstrators in front of TV cameras. The televised result was an image of chaos that probably doomed Hubert Humprhey's chances in the fall campaign against Nixon. At one point the author himself was nearly arrested as Mayor Daley's police were too eager with the nightstick against yippies, hippies, and the media (beating several reporters). I liked Mailer's you-are-there eyewitness style, although his lengthy paragraphs were a bit thick for my taste. Still, most of his fans will not be disappointed.

Little-known facts: Mayor Daley was secretly anti-Vietnam (he had draft-age sons) and almost certainly would have supported peace candidate Bobby Kennedy had the latter not died. Ironically, Humphrey was one of the few in LBJ's White House who didn't like the military build up in Vietnam. Only one person died in the Chicago street mayhem, while several died in Miami ghetto rioting during the GOP convention - but the media never televised the Miami mayhem. Finally, the demonstrators in Chicago helped elect Nixon, thus getting a President far more pro-Vietnam than Humphrey.
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By M. Buzalka on October 25, 2015
Format: Paperback
Norman Mailer followed up his chronicle of the October 1967 March on the Pentagon, The Armies of the Night, with this work about the Republican and Democratic National Conventions that nominated Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey for the presidential election of 1968. As in Armies, Mailer uses a New Journalism approach in which he plays a role in the proceedings, though much more tangential here than in the earlier book, and is not afraid to show himself coming off as less than admirable: for instance, he admits he chickens out of participating in a march late in the Democratic Convention week where he may get arrested, or even assaulted by the out-of-control Chicago cops. His lame excuse to himself: I have a deadline!

Nevertheless, Miami and the Siege of Chicago make for fascinating reading, if only to get Mailer’s views of the major figures: Nixon, Ronald Reagan (then the GOP rising star governor of California who briefly challenged Nixon for the nomination), Eugene McCarthy and Humphrey. George McGovern makes an early impression in leading a doomed anti-Humphrey movement.

Mailer also comes off as a fairly reliable source on the events he saw in Chicago, which makes this an essential work of history about those tumultuous days in August 1968 in the Windy City. There are also a few fascinating asides about tangential topics, such as the Chicago stockyards and how the slaughterhouses at the time operated. Not for the faint of heart or the irredeemably carnivorous…
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Those who were not alive or conscious in 1968 might dismiss this as history, but Norman Mailer's brilliant reportage from the 1968 conventions skillfully skews American politics then and now. His elaborate portraits of politicians still ring true. The upstart Ronald Reagan -- "For years in the movies he had played the good guy and been proud of it. If he didn't get the girl, it was because he was too good a guy to be overwhelmingly attractive.... Since this was conceivably the inner sex drama of half of respectable America, he was wildly popular with Republicans." And here's Mailer on the robotic Nixon: "SMILE said his brain. FLASH went the teeth. But the voice seemed to give away that..." Even Mailer's lament for the American Left seems fresh: "The Left was not ready, the Left was years away from a vision sufficiently complex to give life to the land, the Left had not yet learned to talk a cross the rugged individualism of the more rugged in America..." So read this as history, or as the best of the New Journalism, but it is also politics, sadly, as usual, presented without the usual detachment.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
He goes to Miami to cover the republican convention of 1968 and goes on and on about how wrong they are. That is the first 1/3 of the book. Then he goes to Chicago to cover the DNC and while he rips on Mayor Dayley and his need to control and has the attitude of I'll show them, that was pretty accurate.
It is true the police in Chicago had to restore some order in spots but those kids were not there to light the city on fire or anything. What Mailer should have focused on was at the time, what a mess the democratic party was and how it was still reeling from the loss of JFK and then RFK.
I gave it three stars because it is so descriptive.
But if you are looking for a balanced view, don't count on it from Mailer.
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