Libra – Don DeLillo (1988)

Libra is a 1988 novel by Don DeLillo that describes the life of Lee Harvey Oswald and his participation in a fictional CIA conspiracy to assassinate President John F. Kennedy. The novel blends historical fact with fictional supposition. … The book follows two related but separate narrative threads: episodes from Oswald’s life from his childhood until the assassination and his death, and the actions of other participants in the conspiracy. A secondary parallel story follows Nicholas Branch, a CIA archivist of more recent times assigned the monumental task of piecing together the disparate fragments of Kennedy’s death. Oswald is portrayed as a misfit antihero, whose overtly communist political views cause him difficulties fitting into American society. … Concurrently in the novel, a cadre of CIA agents disillusioned by Kennedy’s perceived failure to adequately support the Bay of Pigs invasion hatch a plot to stage an assassination attempt and blame it on the Cuban government. … DeLillo has stated that Libra is not a nonfiction novel due to its inclusion of fictional characters and speculative plot elements. Nevertheless, the broad outline of Oswald’s life, including his teenage years in New York City, his military service, his use of the alias ‘Hidell,’ and his defection to the Soviet Union are all historically accurate. Both the Warren Commission and the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations implicated Oswald in the attempted assassination of General Walker. … The novel refers to the report of the Warren Commission as the novel that ‘James Joyce would have written if he’d moved to Iowa City and lived to be a hundred,’ as it comprises an almost encyclopedic picture of American life in the 1950s and 1960s comparable to the detailed depiction of Dublin in Joyce’s novels. … A Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote, ‘The novel bears dissection on many levels, but is, taken whole, a seamless, brilliant work of compelling fiction. What makes Libra so unsettling is DeLillo’s ability to integrate literary criticism into the narrative, commenting throughout on the nature and conventions of fiction itself without disturbing the flow of his story.’ The reviewer argued that the subtle juxtaposition of the author’s version of events with the Zapruder film causes the work to raise meaningful questions on the relationship between fiction and truth. …”
Rolling Stone – Q&A: Don DeLillo
John Pistelli
YouTube: Don DeLillo’s Libra 50:09

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Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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