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The Executioner’s Song

by Norman Mailer

In the summer of 1976 Gary Gilmore robbed two men. Then he shot them in cold blood. For those murders Gilmore was sent to languish on Death Row – and could confidently expect his sentence to be commuted to life imprisonment. In America, no one had been executed for ten years.

But Gary Gilmore wanted to die, and his ensuing battle with the authorities for the right to do so made him into a world-wide celebrity – and ensured that his execution turned into the most gruesome media event of the decade.

Billed as a true life novel, The Executioner’s Song won the 1980 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

‘A deeply unsettling account of a particular ordeal that suggests larger questions: the moralities of power’s ends and means, the character of revolutionary fanaticism and the indecipherable humanity that flickers within it…by turns evocative, wise and crisscrossed by fury.’ New York Times Book Review

‘A great writer: in the utterly enthralling story of Gary Gilmore’s life and crimes Norman Mailer takes one as deeply into the criminal mind as it is possible to get.’ Alan Sillitoe

‘A harrowing narrative, worthy of a novel by Graham Greene or John le Carre… [It] possesses the indelible power of a survivor’s testimony’ New York Times


01 January, 1979

About Norman Mailer

Norman Mailer was born in New Jersey in January 1923 and after graduating from Harvard, served in the US army from 1944-1946. His first novel, The Naked and the Dead, was published to immediate critical acclaim in 1948 - and has been hailed as 'the best war novel to emerge from the United States' (Anthony Burgess). He has subsequently published both fiction and non-fiction and his books include Barbary Shore (1951), Advertisements for Myself (1959), The Presidential Papers (1963), An American Dream (1964), Armies of the Night(1968), Ancient Evenings (1983), and Tough Guys Don't Dance (1983). The Executioner's Song, first published in 1979, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1980 - an award which Mailer has won twice during his writing career.

Other books by Norman Mailer


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