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Evening's Empire: The Story of My Father's Murder Hardcover – November 9, 2009

3.7 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Although Evening's Empire is categorized as both memoir and true crime, much of the book reads as a novel. . . .The multiplication of Warren's intrigues and a cumulative sense of doom supply its narrative drive." (Salon.com Laura Miller )

"Zachary Lazar has managed an amazing feat--to evoke both Joan Didion's fierce intelligence and Truman Capote's eerie ability to enter into the unknown. And then there's the deep river of heartbreak flowing beneath it all. Evening's Empire is an incandescent masterpiece." (Nick Flynn )

"Evening's Empire is a fascinating take on a time and a place, built from the inside out by a conspicuously interested party, as entertaining and evocative as could be, like a Scorsese movie, only richer, more thrilling for the memoir-like underpinnings. The story of Zachary Lazar's father is tricky and slippery, as mysterious as all those lights in the sky Arizona is so famous for, but much more human and down to earth. You'll want to put this one in the can't-put-it-down pile." (Frederick Barthelme )

"Evening's Empire is a remarkable work of non-fiction in which reporting and imaginative empathy combine. Lazar's story of the murder of his father is spooky, sharply-focused, loving, beautiful, and richly redolent of a recent America now vanished into the past." (Ian Frazier )

"Using interviews, research and his ample storytelling gifts, Lazar guides us through the career of his father.... Like Sway, the book has a heightened sense for the subtleties of influence and charisma, particularly Warren's....Lazar can deliver scenes of criminal behavior that's at once deeply disturbing and morbidly comic....[Evening's Empire] reveals a writer with emotional heft, tight prose, and searing insights into the complexities of a criminal world that must have looked pretty harmless-until it suddenly wasn't." (BookForum Michael Miller )

"An indelible portrait of the Space Age suburbs and an American dream built on fraud." ("The Daily Details,"Details.com Timothy Holder )

"Evening's Empire was named a fall "must-read" by GQ, Newsday, and Time Out New York." ("This Week's Hot Reads,"The Daily Beast )

"A brave book, a project that promised to pay off its author in pain. What was Lazar going to discover about his dead father? He may not have had memories, but he must have erected a memorial in his mind for the father he lost so young....He achieves literary catharsis." (Newsday John Anderson )

"[Lazar's] style is gorgeous--understated, precise, atmospheric...It's a spotty, murky, haunting story, told by a son who understands it better than his father ever could have." (The Los Angeles Times Joan Wickersham )

"Evening's Empire is a brilliantly conceived, genre-bending story that features taut, exquisite prose about the murder of Zachary Lazar's father, via modes of the memoir, the novel, and investigative journalism." (Chang-rae Lee, author of Native Speaker, winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award )

"Evening's Empire, which may be as close to watching a Scorsese film as one can get on the page, is infused with heat and action, jumpy snitches and crooked politicians and Chicago mobsters... And yet Zachary Lazar also keeps it cool, playing the narrative much as Joan Didion does, the emotional withholding and near invisible release, as much happening between the lines as on them." (OregonLive.com Nancy Rommelmann ) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Zachary Lazar graduated from Brown University and received the Iowa Writer's Workshop's James Michener/Copernicus Society Award. Evening's Empire is his third book. He lives in Southampton, New York, and Princeton, New Jersey, where he holds a 2009-2010 Hodder Fellowship at Princeton. He received a 2009 Guggenheim Fellowship.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (November 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316037680
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316037686
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,774,201 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In 1975 Edward Lazar was murdered in a Mafia hit in a parking garage in Phoenix. Ed Lazar was murdered to prevent his testimony before a grand jury investigating the rampant land fraud and political and institutional corruption existent in Arizona in the 70's. His son Zachary was 6 at the time, and EVENING'S EMPIRE is his history of his father's life.
I don't like to describe much of the plot in a review, but I will say that the book is a fascinating and quick read which features, besides Ed Lazar, a vast assemblage of con men, mobsters, and crooked cops and state officials.

As Lazar does not actually remember any of the incidents he writes about, what he has done is to exhaustively research his father's life by means of court records, interviews, newpaper clippings and more, and then on the framework of the facts - which are extensive - flesh out his father's life and death based on the reasonable conclusions he draws as a result of the factual material. So what the reader gets here is part true story, part novel.

And the result is terrific. Zachary Lazar - just an outstanding writer - has created a story that crackles with amorality, cynicsm, tension, and murder, even as, at the same time, the emotional importance of his father to the author is abundantly clear.
I loved EVENING'S EMPIRE and would recommend it any and everyone.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Author Zachary Lazar writes about the life and death of his father Edward, a man who died when his son was five years old. The actual details of land fraud and swindling are really interesting, but to this reader, the author never fully explained his father's role in the titling, retitling, mortgaging and repossession of Arizona land. Was Edward Lazar an innocent shmuck who got swindled by men he thought were his friends and business partners, or was he an active participant in these crimes? His father's life was ended with five bullets placed into the back of his head - a mob-style execution, after he agreed to testify against his former friends and business associates.

The author's style of writing is engaging, descriptive and highly memorable. I especially liked the part about actor Cesar Romero being hired as a spokesperson for the Verde Lakes housing development, which turned out to be smoke and mirrors. The description of the prospective buyers arriving in a fleet of vans, having no idea that they were about to be swindled or oversold on a property that was too unstable to ever be developed for residential use. Every consumer should read Chapter 7, in which the methods of the salesmen are described in great detail, customers they described as 'Mickey Nothings' and 'Johnny Zeroes.'

The author also does an excellent job of capturing the time and place of the story - Arizona in the 1960's and early 1970's, when real estate developers wore bolo ties and cowboy hats, taking on a role, playing a game, even though most of them were born somewhere other than Arizona.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Non-Fiction is one of those great categories for a book. While minor liberties may be taken to fill in the blanks, ultimately a story will either succeed or sink based upon the way the facts are communicated. EVENING'S EMPIRE succeeds in a big and hauntingly satisfying way.
The author has taken a crucial event in his life (the mob hit death of his father) and through research and FBI records and the memories of family and friends explains how a seemingly ethical CPA, husband, and father managed to get involved with crooks, politicians, and mobsters in a huge real estate scandal. The resulting book is a deftly handled account of greed, ambition, and what can happen when it all goes terribly wrong.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Ed Lazar was a young CPA living in Phoenix in the 1960's. He was married to Susie and they had two children - a boy named Zachary and a daughter named Stacey. Things seemed to be going along okay for the young couple, but Ed was restless and wanted more.

Hoping to grab the brass ring, Ed becomes involved with Ned Warren, a less-than-desirable character in land deals. Ned has a shady past, including some jail time for fraud. It turns out the land deals were more like Ponzi schemes and over-run with fraud. When investigators start closing in, Ed decides to cooperate and testify against his former business partner, Ned.

Ed refused protection and testified before the grand jury. His testimony went fine and he was told to come back a week later. He never made it - he was found brutally murdered in a parking garage stairwell the day before he was to testify again.

Ed son's Zachary was six at the time and doesn't really remember his father or anything about the events. In a search to know his father, he spent countless hours researching the events that led up to his murder. Evening's Empire is the result of all of his research.

I really do understand Zachary Lazar's motivation for researching and writing this book, but it just didn't work for me. I found the details of the land fraud schemes confusing and dry reading. There were so many people mentioned that it was just impossible to keep up with who all of them were. Most of the book is told in the third person, but every once in a while, it would change to first person for a short period and I found that confusing. I think there's a good story in all the land fraud in Arizona at the time, but for me, Evening's Empire wasn't it.
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