Norman Mailer: A Double Life

Front Cover
Simon and Schuster, Oct 28, 2014 - Biography & Autobiography - 960 pages
The “glorious…sweeping, full-scale biography” of Norman Mailer, the famous novelist, journalist, and public figure: “There’s not a paragraph in this enormous book that doesn’t contain a nugget of something you…wish you had known” (The New York Times).

Norman Mailer was one of the giants of American letters, and one of the most celebrated public figures of his time. He was a novelist, journalist, biographer, and filmmaker; a provocateur and passionate observer of his times; and a husband, father, and serial philanderer.

Perhaps nothing characterized Mailer more than his ambition. He wanted not merely to be the greatest writer of his generation, but a writer great enough to be compared to Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. As Michael Lennon describes, although he considered himself first and foremost a novelist, his greatest literary contribution may have been in journalism, where he used his novelistic gifts to explore the American psyche. He would return to certain subjects obsessively: John F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, sex, technology, and the intricate relationship of fame and identity. Lennon captures Mailer in all his sharp complexities and shows us how he self-consciously invented and re-invented himself throughout his lifetime.

Michael Lennon knew Mailer for thirty-five years, and in this definitive biography, he had the cooperation of Mailer’s late widow, Norris Church, his ex-wives, and all of his children, as well as his sister, Barbara. He also had access to Mailer’s vast, unpublished correspondence and papers, and he interviewed dozens of people who knew Mailer. In Norman Mailer: A Double Life he “brings Mailer thoroughly alive in this great wallop of a book…and he captures the entirety of a man who embodied his era like no other” (The Washington Post).

What people are saying - Write a review


User Review  -

Appropriately sprawling biography of the larger-than-life writer, brawler, provocateur and bon vivant.Norman Mailer (1923-2007), writes archivist and authorized biographer Lennon, grew up in a ... Read full review

Norman Mailer

User Review  - Book Verdict

Emeritus Vice President for Academic Affairs and Emeritus Professor of English at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania, Lennon knew Norman Mailer and chairs the editorial board of the Mailer Review. So ... Read full review


June 1948
TWO Harvard
THREE The Army
Prominent and Empty
FIVE The Deer Park
SIX General Marijuana and the Navigator
SEVEN A Felonious Assault and An American Dream
Armies and After
TEN The Turn to Biography
Gilmore and Abbott
TWELVE Pharaohs and Tough Guys
Harlots Ghost
FOURTEEN A Merry Life and a Married One
FIFTEEN Old Freighter Uncertain Sea
Select Bibliography

NINE Politician to Prisoner

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2014)

J. Michael Lennon is Emeritus Vice President for Academic Affairs and Emeritus Professor of English at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania. In addition to being chair of the editorial board of The Mailer Review, he has written or edited several books about and with Mailer.

Bibliographic information