• Oswald's Tale

  • An American Mystery
  • By: Norman Mailer
  • Narrated by: Christopher Lane
  • Length: 29 hrs and 17 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (149 ratings)
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Oswald's Tale

By: Norman Mailer
Narrated by: Christopher Lane
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Publisher's summary

In perhaps his most important literary feat, Norman Mailer fashions an unprecedented portrait of one of the great villains - and enigmas - in United States history. Here is Lee Harvey Oswald - his family background, troubled marriage, controversial journey to Russia, and return to an "America [waiting] for him like an angry relative whose eyes glare in the heat." Based on KGB and FBI transcripts, government reports, letters and diaries, and Mailer's own international research, this is an epic account of a man whose cunning, duplicity, and self-invention were both at home in and at odds with the country he forever altered.

©1995 Norman Mailer. (P)2016 Brilliance Audio, Inc, all rights reserved.

What listeners say about Oswald's Tale

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Outstanding

Norman Mailer does a fantastic job of relating the facts and theories of the Kennedy tragedy. He weaves enthralling story of the personalities in Oswalds life. I learned many new details and got a better insight into what I already knew, about Oswald and his family. Although long I never found the book tedious. Wonderful narration.

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18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Do Not Stop Here

What made the experience of listening to Oswald's Tale the most enjoyable?

Christopher Lane's performance, which is superb.

Would you recommend Oswald's Tale to your friends? Why or why not?

Yes — it provides some valuable perspective on Lee Harvey Oswald, the person.

Which character – as performed by Christopher Lane – was your favorite?

N/A

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

At times, yes.

Any additional comments?

I have studied the JFK assassination for over a decade and have read dozens of books over that time. Mailer's Oswald's Tale has helped to augment my research, as the book provides a valuable perspective on Lee Harvey Oswald's life and character. It succeeds as a well-researched, if incomplete, biography of an individual who remains largely unknown save for his association with the event that made him infamous.

Mailer's portrait of Oswald reveals a self-important misfit who, after repeated failures to enact his will upon society and even his family, was presented with a chance at infamy — the murder of a president — and took it. It's a believable premise. The problem, though, is that Mailer equates Oswald's disillusionment to a smoking gun, but he offers very little substantive evidence that Oswald did in fact kill the president, and that he did so alone.

Granted, much more evidence has been uncovered and disseminated since the book was published in 1995 — thanks in large part to the JFK Assassination Records Review Board which came after, but Oswald's Tale ignores most of the ballistic evidence and all of the forensic evidence that was known at the time. Instead, Mailer focuses solely on the question of whether Oswald had the capacity for the act. As if that is sufficient for conviction.

Mailer seems satisfied to make a conclusion from a character study based largely on conjecture. Reader's of Oswald's Tale would be wise to understand the evidence before making a similar leap.

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17 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Mailer’s Ticket to Heaven

The most interesting book I’ve encountered in over 60 years of reading. A work of enduring genius.

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14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Gripping. Meticulous. Never drags.

A review requires at least 15 words. I believe my heading cuts to the heart of the matter, thank you.

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8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Beyond Brilliant

I Was hesitant to purchase bc I’ve read too many JFK books to count. So glad I took the plunge. Probably the most enjoyable audiobook I’ve ever listened to. The performance by Mr. Lane is subtly brilliant. Working with Mailer’s perfect prose, Lane does the work justice. I never wanted it to end.

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3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Gold standard for narration and recording quality.

Best reading and technical quality I’ve heard. Kudos to Christopher Lane for breathing life into transcripts and the production team for a seamless audio experience. Oh, and a great book too! A must if you are interested in Oswald.

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Truly Oswald’s Tale

Mailer humanizes perhaps the shadowiest figure in U.S. history. He evokes empathy as Oswald struggles to find meaning in life and pity when Lee determines that infamy is the vehicle. Mailer lays out Oswald’s repeated failed attempts to garner attention, which depress him further fail but unintentionally insulate him from the scrutiny he deserves from law enforcement. Fate issues an incredible set of circumstances that all but ordain his epic deed and equally momentous murder. All along the way, we meet an amazing cast of characters. Even though it is a story many of us know in detail, Oswald’s Tale, told in novel style,forces us to examine from another vantage point this mental tattoo on the collective memory of humankind.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting but anticlimactic

Fascinating all the way through, but Mailer cops out at the end. He basically just says "Well, we're not going to get into ballistics, and the assassination seems Ike something Oswald would have done, so despite all of the contrary evidence I have just presented, let's just go with that." It's like a meticulous defense lawyer closing the case by just shrugging and saying "Your honor, he looks pretty guilty."

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

It’s a long one. But a good one

For those of you that are curious about the various Kennedy assassination legends, this book provides a more in depth perspective and a deep look into the mind of Oswald.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A Fascinating Awful Tale

Of course you know the terrible outcome, but not the biographical details. No position is taken on the conspiracy versus lone gunman argument, but facts of the tale are laid out for the reader to reach their own conclusions (or not!). I loved it and Christopher Lane delivered the numerous voices wonderfully.

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