The Public Burning

Robert Coover’s (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Coover)┬ácontroversial best-seller, The Public Burning (1977)┬áhas since emerged as one of the most influential novels of our time. The first major work of contemporary fiction ever to use living historical figures as characters, the novel reimagines the three fateful days in 1953 that culminated with the execution of alleged atomic spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Vice-President Richard Nixon – the voraciously ambitious bad boy of the Eisenhower regime – is the dominant narrator in an enormous cast that includes Betty Crocker, Joe McCarthy, the Marx Brothers, Walter Winchell, Uncle Sam, his adversary The Phantom, and Time magazine incarnated as the National Poet Laureate. All of these and thousands more converge in Times Square for the carnivalesque auto-da-fe at which the Rosenbergs are put to death. And not a person present escapes implication in Cold War America’s ruthless ‘public burning’.

656 pages in Penguin paperback edition

ISBN 978-0140048452

Robert Coover

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