Oswald’s Tale: An American Mystery. New York: Random House, 12 May; London: Little, Brown, 7 September. Nonfiction narrative, 828 pp., $30.


A signed, leather-bound “limited first edition” appeared simultaneously carrying a two-page preface, “A Special Message for the First Edition from Norman Mailer.” Franklin Center, Pa.: Franklin Library, $75.

Dedication: “To Norris, my wife, for this book and for the other seven that have been written through these warm years, these warm twenty years we have been together.” Appreciation:

To Larry Schiller, my skilled and wily colleague in interview and investigation, for the six months we labored side by side in Minsk and Moscow, and then again in Dallas, feeling as close as family (and occasionally as contentious); and to Judith McNally, my incomparable assistant, whose virtues are so numerous it would weigh upon one’s own self-regard to list them—yes, to Schiller and McNally, a full and unconditional appreciation. Without them there might have been no tale to tell.

Rpt: A lengthy advance excerpt appeared in New Yorker (95.8), a shorter one in New York Review of Books (95.15), and, shortly after publication, another brief one in Parade (95.17); eight excerpts are reprinted in The Time of Our Time (98.7). See 83.58, 93.8, 1995 entries, 96.2, 97.26.


The intent of Oswald’s Tale, you see, is not to solve the case—that’s beyond my means—but to delineate for the reader what kind of man he was (that is to say, what kind of character Oswald would be in a novel), and thereby enable the reader to start thinking about which plots, conspiracies, or lone actions Oswald would have been capable of, as opposed to all the ones he would never fit. (95.27)

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