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The Executioner's Song
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on April 28, 2017
Atypical writing for Mailer. Written in less like a novel and more like a nonfiction account Mailer dispenses with metaphor, simile, and other literary devices and delves into tortured life of murderer, and artist Gary Gilmore, the 1st man to be executed in the US after the supreme court lifted the ban on capital punishment. The cast of characters is huge and includes members of Gilmore's immediate family his deeply loved and flawed girlfriend, Nicole Baker, the attorneys involved on all sides of the equation, those for the execution by firing squad, those against, national and Utah state journalists, movie producers, and more. It is a love story told without sentimentality. It is also the story of events set into motion by the state of Utah death sentence which garnered national as well as international attention. It is a Pulitzer book that causes one to look within on the issue of capital punishment. As mentioned in the forward by Dave Eggers, Mailer's main achievement consists of 1000 pages written without any insertion of the authors viewpoint on the controversial subject of capital punishment. It's engrossing and difficult to put down. Not a book one will read and forget.
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on July 25, 2017
I chose my rating based upon the level of interest I had to keep reading this incredible piece of work. Gilmore and his personality are what make this book captivating and a desire to see his influence on how events unfold.

From the beginning this book was not what I expected it to be. Very few books I have read on any event have been so completely documented. The insistence upon giving all sides their voice in regards to Gilmore's latter days and execution is really charming. The dedication of the author to convey the thoughts of every major player involved gives a better view into what people were experiencing at this time.

One area I would liked to have seen more strongly represented is the experience of the victim's survivors. However, the picture is so complete otherwise it seems quite intentionally left out.

I can recommend this book to anyone curious about the effects of the sentence of capitol punishment not only for the criminal, but also for their family, friends and lovers. Included as well are the litigators and reporters that eventually become involved.
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on October 31, 2016
I had been wanting to read this book for long time now. I was interested for a number of reasons - I was a Criminal Justice major in college which led me to an interest in the death penalty and I am from Northern Utah. I guess I just didn't get what I thought I would. The book read like fiction, which I guess could be both good and bad depending. By the end there were so many people involved, I felt like I needed a flow chart. I also must have lost the reasoning of the inclusion of so many letters from Gary to Nicole. By that time we knew the background of both and all it did was reiterate Gary's lack of control over his emotions. I have to say I was bored by the end of the book I almost stopped. Perhaps people involved with the courts would stay focused. I really wanted to like this book, but it just didn't do it for me.
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on October 7, 2017
A compilation of unsympathetic characters making one bad decision after another. In contrast with other reviews, I didn’t find Mailer’s account of Gilmore humanizing or sympathetic. I found the work to be an exposition on a narcissist without any unique insight beyond what you can read in a “pop-psych” piece in a supermarket tabloid.
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on May 30, 2016
Slow at times, but there is a method to the madness. It is thorough. I am an avid reader, but I typically only read for pleasure. If I'm being honest, I would have to say that if I were not an attorney, I don't think I would have bothered to finish it. Interesting discourse on capitol punishment and the failure of the judicial system to rehabilitate repeat offenders.

Read it if you are interested in the evolution of the criminial mind and the process by which legal action can hinder and (rarely) advance higher social order in a flawed legal system.
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on January 11, 2017
I finished the book in three days. It held my interest most of the time, except when it seemed to really lag during the portion of the book dealing with who would have rights to Gary's story. I remember his story in the news quite well. I would guess that Nicole is approximately my age. I felt that they were both very immoral. I feel no empathy for either one of them. I felt that their relationship was extremely disfunctional, and based solely on the sexual. I felt that he manipulated her in extraordinary ways, and tried to get her to die for him. It was a very selfish and immature. I did think the writing itself was exceptional. I have not seen the movie and doubt that I will.
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on July 11, 2016
I can handle long books, but this was just too long. A lot of unnecessary content/info about characters in this event that no one really cares about. The parts that are good (those about Gary, Nicole, Brenda, Gibbs) are great, but there are so many parts about characters I didn't care about that just felt like drudgery to read. Everything is amazingly written undoubtedly, but there's just a lot in there that starts to make it drag on near the end.
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on May 27, 2017
This is such a difficult book to describe... its not like any of Mailers other books, but it's SO much a story that he would write about. This is a twisting turning book, long and full of difficult things; murder, suicide, jail, execution. But it is still amazing, crazy, and hard to believe that it all happened over 40 years ago. I've read this book over 10 times, and each time I read it I get amazed and astonished, as well as a new look at us as a society. Read this one, it's great.
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on January 4, 2017
Words can not be found by me to describe this work. A Pulitzer Prize was awarded to its author and rightly so. In the words of another reviewer it's the quickest 1100 pages you'll ever read. I literally could not put it down. A truly great book!
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on August 14, 2015
I wanted to love this book, but I didn't. The beginning is interesting. leading up to the murders. After that, it gets so bogged down with details.
Too many people to keep track of, and a lot of legal jargon. 1,000 pages is a lot to take on, it got boring toward the end.
Overall it was a good true story, and if you can handle the length it is worth reading.
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