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Drafted into the army in 1944, he served in the Philippines, as a rifleman in a reconnaissance outfit with the Twelfth Armoured Cavalry regiment from Texas until 1946. Just before enrolling in the Sorbonne, in Paris, he wrote The Naked and the Dead(1948) based on his personal experiences in World War II, it was both a critical and commercial success and hailed by many as one of the finest American novels to come out of WWII.
Other highlights in a long and distinguished career include : The White Negro , a sociological and semi-autobiographical essay, one of his best pieces, in the authors own opinion. Advertisements for Myself, a collection of the best of Mailer's essays, stories, interviews and journalism from the 40's and 50's. Why Are We in Vietnam, a soul-searching novel on the place of violence in the Vietnam Years.
Mailer's dramatic journalistic style can be best appreciated in the superb Armies of the Night , (Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award recipient), a recollection of his own experiences at the Washington peace rallies of 1968, during which he was jailed. Mailer won 6% of the vote in a five man primary to become Mayor of New York. He documented the 1968 Republican and Democratic Conventions in Miami and the Siege of Chicago and the first manned landing on the Moon in Of a Fire on the Moon . Mailer returned to examine violence in society in The Executioner's Song a novel based on the true life story of convicted murder Gary Gilmore.
More recently, Harlot's Ghost an epic tour-de-force about the lifetime's of two generations in the CIA. Oswald's Tale gets behind the stereotypical view of Oswald and traces his journey from a disastrous childhood to the Marines to Minsk and onto his death in Dallas.
A major figure in post-war American literature, Mailer's other credits include writing, directing and appearing in a number of motion pictures.
Mailer's latest novel is entitled The Gospel According to the Son, a first-person account of the life of a very human Jesus Christ. He is currently rumoured to be working on the highly anticipated sequel to "Harlot's Ghost".
Norman Mailer won the National Book Award for Arts and Letters in 1969 and the Pulitzer Prize twice, once in 1969 and again in 1980.
The Deer Park has been adapted into a play and was successfully produced off-Broadway.
In 1955 Mailer co-founded the Village Voice, and he was editor of Dissent from 1952 until 1963. For his role in demonstrations against the war in Vietnam he was jailed in 1967. He was President of PEN (US Chapter) from 1984 to 1986.
Norman Mailer has been married six times and has nine children.
Last modified: November 2002