Publish date:
Updated on
Year
1948

Norman Mailer's first novel, “The Naked and the Dead,” is published

Twenty-five-year-old Norman Mailer’s first novel, The Naked and the Dead, is published on this day in 1948. The book is critically acclaimed and widely considered one of the best novels to come out of World War II.

Mailer was born in New Jersey in 1923 and raised in Brooklyn. He attended Harvard and joined the Army during World War II. After leaving the Army in 1946, he studied at the Sorbonne, where he wrote the Naked and The Dead, based on his own military experiences. The book, which closely chronicles the lives of 13 soldiers stationed in the Pacific, presents a fictional story with precise, journalistic detail.

Mailer’s next two books, Barbaray Shore (1951) and The Deer Park (1955), were savaged by critics, but his subsequent journalistic chronicles fared better. The Armies of the Night (1968), an account of his participation in the Washington peace march of 1967, won a Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction and the National Book Award in 1969. His novel The Executioner’s Song, a fictionalized account of the life of convicted murderer Gary Gilmore, won the Pulitzer for fiction in 1980. In 1991, his four-pound novel Harlot’s Ghost explored the CIA from 1948 through the Kennedy administration.

Mailer’s reputation as a hard-drinking, tough-talking anti-feminist made him a controversial literary figure in the 1970s and 1980s. His high-profile exploits included drinking binges, the alleged stabbing of his wife at a party, and a run for the mayoralty of New York.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

The Haymarket Square Riot

At Haymarket Square in Chicago, Illinois, a bomb is thrown at a squad of policemen attempting to break up a labor rally. The police responded with wild gunfire, killing several people in the crowd and injuring dozens more. The demonstration, which drew some 1,500 Chicago workers, ...read more