n 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
Norman Mailer was born in New Jersey in January 1923 and after graduating from Harvard, served in the US army from 1944-1946. His first novel, The Naked and the Dead, was published to immediate critical acclaim in 1948 - and has been hailed as 'the best war novel to emerge from the United States' (Anthony Burgess).
He has subsequently published both fiction and non-fiction and his books include Barbary Shore (1951), Advertisements for Myself (1959), The Presidential Papers (1963), An American Dream (1964), Armies of the Night (1968), Ancient Evenings (1983), and Tough Guys Don't Dance (1983).
The Executioner's Song, first published in 1979, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1980 - an award which Mailer has won twice during his writing career.