While Eisenstein documented the forces of totalitarianism and Stalinism upon the faces of the Russian peoples, DeLillo offers a stunning, at times overwhelming, document of the twin forces of the Cold War and American culture, compelling that "swerve from evenness" in which he finds events and people both wondrous and horrifying.
Don DeLillo is an acquired taste. He loves repetition,which drives many readers mad. He has a powerful worldview, centeredon conspiracies and secret meanings. Political conservatives often despise him.
If you are new to DeLillo, you may very well enjoy his books. But please, do NOT start your DeLillo reading with this book. Start with a small, funny book like End Zone. Ease into White Noise, Mao II or Libra ... then take a crack at Underworld.
For those in touch with DeLillo's dry humor and in love with those picture perfect sentences that seem to appear out of thin air, Underworld is the ultimate feast. It is a culmination of his themes about modern America ... but it's also a miraculous collection of vignettes.
What other writer would dare imagine a series of Lenny Bruce monologues during the Cuban Missile Crisis? Or conjure up a forgotten Eisenstein film? Or rediscover the bizarre coincidence of Frank Sinatra, Toots Shoor, Jackie Gleason and J. Edgar Hoover all attending the Giants-Dodgers playoff game?