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Undeniably one of the most controversial figures of past half century, Norman Mailer has also been one of the most influential. Twice a winner of the Pulitzer Prize, once a candidate for mayor of New York City, and the author of thirty-one books, he has both made the news and commented on it with an originality that has permanently altered America's literary landscape. From the peace rallies of the sixties that lead to The Armies of the Night, to the coverage of the sex wars in The Prisoner of Sex, to the study of violence and punishment in The Executioner's Song, Mailer has observed our culture with unmatched insight -- and shaped it as well. Mary Dearborn had unprecedented access to Mailer's friends, relations, and antagonists. With photographs and correspondence never before published, her biography fills in the familiar outlines of his colorful personal life -- the wives and mistresses, the brawls and arrests -- and charts Mailer's brilliant successes and notorious failures. Acclaimed for her biographies of Henry Miller and Louise Bryant, Dearborn comes to her subject uniquely sensitive to Mailer's best and worst sides. Her account is the most clearheaded and balanced evaluation to date. As splendidly told by Mary Dearborn, Mailer's story is, for good or ill, the story of our times.