In the summer of 1976 Gary Gilmore robbed two men. Then he shot them in cold blood. For those murders Gilmore was sent to languish on Death Row - and could confidently expect his sentence to be commuted to life imprisonment. In America, no one had been executed for ten years. But Gary Gilmore wanted to die, and his ensuing battle with the authorities for the right to do so made him into a world-wide celebrity - and ensured that his execution turned into the most gruesome media event of the decade.
The Executioner's Song is a work of unprecedented force. It is the true story of Gary Gilmore, who in 1977 became the first person executed in the United States since the reinstitution of the death penalty. Gilmore, a violent yet articulate man who chose not to fight his death-penalty sentence, touched off a national debate about capital punishment. He allowed Norman Mailer and researcher Lawrence Schiller complete access to his story. Mailer took the material and produced an immense book with a dry, unwavering voice and meticulous attention to detail on Gilmore's life--particularly his relationship with Nicole Baker, whom Gilmore claims to have killed. What unfolds is a powerful drama, a distorted love affair, and a chilling look into the mind of a murderer in his countdown with a firing squad.
Winner of the 1980 Pulitzer Prize
In what is arguably his greatest book, America's most heroically ambitious writer follows
the short, blighted career of Gary Gilmore, an intractably violent product of America's
prisons who became notorious for two reasons: first, for robbing two men in 1976, then
killing them in cold blood; and, second, after being tried and convicted, for insisting on
dying for his crime. To do so, he had to fight a system that seemed paradoxically intent on
keeping him alive long after it had sentenced him to death.
Norman Mailer tells Gilmore's story--and those of the men and women caught up in his
procession toward the firing squad--with implacable authority, steely compassion, and a
restraint that evokes the parched landscapes and stern theology of Gilmore's Utah. The
Executioner's Song is a trip down the wrong side of the tracks to the deepest sources of
American loneliness and violence. It is a towering achievement--impossible to put down, impossible to forget.
From the Inside Flap