A larger-than-life personality, Norman Mailer was a force to be reckoned with in his personal life—he knew many, many people—and as a voice in the American literary canon between WWII and the beginning of the twenty-first century. Any writer of a serious biography of Mailer who hopes to contain the excesses of the man within the covers of a book must know that since Mailer in his own lifetime grated on people’s taste and nerves, he could easily grate on the reader, even when presented within the pages of a biography. Lennon, authorized by Mailer before his death to write the definitive life treatment, performs a great task, letting Mailer’s obnoxiousness have free rein in balance with the biographer’s easygoing narrative style, which coaxes the reader into accepting and even enjoying all sides of Mailer—gregarious, notoriously thin-skinned, grandly egotistical, and monstrously talented. Understanding Mailer is only half the object of this welcome biography; its other intention is for readers to be enticed into reading or rereading Mailer’s works. ~Brad Hooper