The Armies of the Night: History as a Novel, the Novel as History
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
One of the first examples of "new journalism" daringly combines reportage with a novelistic style and garnered Mailer his first Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award.
Armies of the Night centers on the March on the Pentagon, the most famous anti-Vietnam War rally in Washington DC, and the characters that occupy this opposition––the intellectuals, students, African Americans, liberals, and marching women. Mailer, a novelist-as-character, sculpts this impressionably fragile world of the Left versus Authority and Peace versus War, prodding at the Vietnam generation’s deepest anxieties.
In the same way Truman Capote's In Cold Blood introduced the "non-fiction novel," Armies of the Night renders this form, with turns historical and fictional.
twenty miles of passageway. If twenty thousand people worked in the offices, cubbyholes, and warrens off those indistinguishable corridors, twice that number of demonstrators might be needed to paralyze the entire building. For the Pentagon, architecturally, was as undifferentiated as a jellyfish or a cluster of barnacles. One could chip away at any part of the interior without locating a nervous center. It was nonetheless an historic moment when these reconnoitering vanguards of the
grabbed her and dragged her away, under arrest. The soldier she had spoken to tried to tell them that she hadn’t hurt him. It may be obvious by now that a history of the March on the Pentagon which is not unfair will never be written, any more than a history which could prove dependable in details! As it grew dark there was the air of carnival as well. The last few thousand Marchers to arrive from Lincoln Memorial did not even bother to go to the North Parking Area, but turned directly to the
crossing (or the eighty days of dying on a slave ship) each generation of Americans had forged their own rite, in the forest of the Alleghenies and the Adirondacks, at Valley Forge, at New Orleans in 1812, with Rogers and Clark or at Sutter’s Mill, at Gettysburg, the Alamo, the Klondike, the Argonne, Normandy, Pusan—the engagement at the Pentagon was a pale rite of passage next to these, and yet it was probably a true one, for it came to the spoiled children of a dead de-animalized middle class
drink until the March was over, or he would spoil the now undeniable clarity and sweet anticipation of his nerves) and had finally contented each other with wry twists of the eyebrow at the interminable tedium of the speeches. No use to tell oneself that the people who spoke had worked hard to prepare this March, and so were entitled to their reward. Bugger all reward. Half the troops would desert if the speeches went on. (And in fact half the troops did—no telling how many more would have set
camera. Mailer, when all was said, was no Arnold Toynbee, no Bertrand Russell (perhaps not even an Eric Goldman) no, with all granted, Mailer as an intellectual always had something of the usurper about him—something in his voice revealed that he likely knew less than he pretended. Watching himself talk on camera for this earlier documentary, he was not pleased with himself as a subject. For a warrior, presumptive general, ex-political candidate, embattled aging enfant terrible of the literary