Report: FBI Kept Tabs on ‘Admitted Leftist’ Norman Mailer

The Washington Post‘s Joe Stephens has a story today about the FBI’s 15 year-long surveillance of Norman Mailer, which began in 1962 after Mr. Mailer wrote an article about Jacqueline Kennedy for Esquire.

According to Mr. Stephens:

FBI agents closely tracked the grand and mundane aspects of the acclaimed novelist’s life, according to previously confidential government files. Agents questioned his friends, scoured his passport file, thumbed through his best-selling books and circulated his photo among informants. They kept records on his appearances at writers conferences, talk shows and peace rallies. They noted the volume of envelopes in his mailbox and jotted down who received his Christmas cards. They posed as his friend, chatted with his father and more than once knocked on his door disguised as deliverymen.

What did they learn? Apparently Mr. Mailer was an "admitted leftist" (you don’t say?); he’d "been critical of the FBI in public appearances" (horrors!); and Mr. Mailer’s Miami and the Siege of Chicago was "is written in his usual obscene and bitter style" (put that on your book jacket).

While lacking a G-man’s bureaucratic economy, Wilfrid Sheed in The New York Times on December 8, 1968 didn’t love Miami either, writing that Mr. Mailer’s "method is simply to stuff as much of America into his ego as will fit and then to examine the ego closely."

Earlier this week, it was reported that the FBI also kept tabs on David Halberstam.

Report: FBI Kept Tabs on ‘Admitted Leftist’ Norman Mailer