Staff Reviews

Pulp Revisionism

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Crime novelist James Ellroy says his books are about "bad white men, doing bad things in the name of authority." His latest, Blood's a Rover, deals with the baddest of them all: the government. The final volume in Ellroy's acclaimed Underworld USA Trilogy, which includes American Tabloid (1995) and The Cold Six Thousand (2001), Blood's a Rover is a conspiracy-driven, blood-spattered alternate history of America from 1968 to 1972.

Focused in part on J. Edgar Hoover's deranged attempts to destroy the black liberation movement after Martin Luther King's assassination (at the hands of Hoover's FBI, in Ellroy's telling), the book features a gallery of crooked pols, psychopathic feds, trigger-happy mobsters, and corrupt union officials, all involved in a web of state-sanctioned violence and deceit. As Ellroy told National Public Radio, "I get to rewrite American history to my own specification, assassinate political leaders, suffer nervous breakdowns, have a blast, use the grooviest drugs of the era, and no one gets hurt."