Lee Harvey Oswald is the patron saint of American paranoia. His strangely benevolent face blesses all those who believe power in the United States to be wielded furtively by dark forces. His death is viewed by the suspicious as martyrdom at the hands of the keepers of the secrets. Only the unbeliever would suggest that he acted alone, that he was not the incarnation of some plot, some fearsome retribution against JFK for disturbing the balance of unseen power. The particulars of conspiracy theories may vary, yet behind them all rests the belief that a tight, enlightened network of nameless men runs America, ready to destroy the transgressors.
Don DeLillo’s ninth novel, Libra, is a bold attempt to flesh out the myth of Saint Oswald, to turn this paranoia into fiction. DeLillo is well qualified to attempt such a hagiography. His consistently brilliant work has plummed the depths of American dread, often portraying the US as a death-obsessed