John Gregory Dunne Books In Order


  1. True Confessions (1977)
  2. Dutch Shea, Jr. (1982)
  3. The Red, White and Blue (1987)
  4. Playland (1994)
  5. Nothing Lost (2004)

Non fiction

  1. Delano (1967)
  2. The Studio (1969)
  3. Vegas (1974)
  4. Quintana and Friends (1978)
  5. Harp (1989)
  6. Crooning (1990)
  7. Monster (1997)
  8. Regards (2005)

Novels Book Covers

Non fiction Book Covers

John Gregory Dunne Books Overview

True Confessions

In 1940s Los Angeles, an unidentified murder victim is found bisected in a shadowy lot. A catchy nickname is given her in jest ‘The Virgin Tramp’ and suddenly a ‘nice little homicide that would have drifted off the front pages in a couple of days’ becomes a storm center. Two brothers, Tom and Des Spellacy, are at the heart of this powerful novel of Irish Catholic life in Southern California just after World War II. Played in the film version by Robert Duvall and Robert De Niro respectively, Tom is a homicide detective and Des is a priest on the rise within the Church. The murder investigation provides the background against which are played the ever changing loyalties of the two brothers. Theirs is a world of favors and fixes, power and promises, inhabited by priests and pimps, cops and contractors, boxers and jockeys and lesbian fight promoters and lawyers who know how to put the fix in. A fast paced and often hilarious classic of contemporary fiction, True Confessions is about a crime that has no solutions, only victims. More important, it is about the complex relationship between Tom and Des Spellacy, each tainted with the guilt and hostility that separate brothers.

Dutch Shea, Jr.

Dutch Shea, Jr. has a judge for a mistress, a hand in the till, and a past he’d rather forget. His days are spent in an off color world of con men, pimps, radical lawyers and private eyes his nights are filled with Martha, who makes love talk sound like a legal brief.

Nothing Lost

From one of America’s most celebrated writers an incandescent love story set in a small American town overtaken by the celebrity machine that comes to feast on a big time criminal trial. In the town of Regent, a lurid murder becomes a magnet for the media, the best and worst of the local courtroom powers, and a rich cast of hangers on. There is Teresa Kean, the advocacy lawyer whose life is charged by a mysterious secret; J.J. McClure, the prosecutor who contemplates his own secrets under the radar screen of Poppy, his glamorous, funny, right wing congresswoman wife. There is Max Cline, a tough gay former state s attorney, once J.J. s boss and now a marginalized defense counsel. There is the sociopathic seventeen year old Carlyle, half sister of the accused, a supermodel whose addiction is attention no matter the cost. And as if it were a character itself there is the reckless passion that will fulfill a self destructive destiny for one of the players. Dunne s fascination with the population of the forgotten, the rejected, and the left behind in the emptiness of the American heartland is the foundation of a story that takes us through the inner workings of the media, the prisons, the courts, and politics. Unsentimental, surprising deeply sad and darkly funny Nothing Lost is Dunne s finest and last novel.


In September 1965, Filipino and Mexican American farm workers went on strike against grape growers in and around Delano, California. More than a labor dispute, the strike became a movement for social justice that helped redefine Latino and American politics. The strike also catapulted its leader, Cesar Chavez, into prominence as one of the most celebrated American political figures of the twentieth century. More than forty years after its original publication, Delano: The Story of the California Grape Strike, based on compelling first hand reportage and interviews, retains both its freshness and its urgency in illuminating a moment of unusually significant social ferment.

The Studio

In 1967, John Gregory Dunne asked for unlimited access to the inner workings of Twentieth Century Fox. Miraculously, he got it. For one year Dunne went everywhere there was to go and talked to everyone worth talking to within The Studio. He tracked every step of the creation of pictures like ‘Dr. Dolittle,’ ‘Planet of the Apes,’ and ‘The Boston Strangler.’ The result is a work of reportage that, thirty years later, may still be our most minutely observed and therefore most uproariously funny portrait of the motion picture business.

Whether he is recounting a showdown between Fox’s studio head and two suave shark like agents, watching a producer’s girlfriend steal a silver plate from a restaurant, or shielding his eyes against the glare of a Hollywood premiere where the guests include a chimp in a white tie and tails, Dunne captures his subject in all its showmanship, savvy, vulgarity, and hype. Not since F. Scott Fitzgerald and Nathanael West has anyone done Hollywood better.

‘Reads as racily as a novel…
Dunne has a novelist’s ear for speech and eye for revealing detail…
Anyone who has tiptoed along those corridors of power is bound to say that Dunne’s impressionism rings true.’ Los Angeles Times


An autobiography, travel book, account of being a writer, a way to coming to terms with mortality, this work documents and reflects the author’s frenzied and dramatic life.


In Hollywood, screenwriters are a curse to be borne, and beating up on them is an industry blood sport. But in this ferociously funny and accurate account of life on the Hollywood food chain, it’s a screenwriter who gets the last murderous laugh. That may be because the writer is John Gregory Dunne, who has written screenplays, along with novels and non fiction, for thirty years. In 1988 Dunne and his wife, Joan Didion, were asked to write a screenplay about the dark and complicated life of the late TV anchorwoman Jessica Savitch. Eight years and twenty seven drafts later, this script was made into the fairy tale ‘Up Close and Personal’ starring Robert Redford and Michelle Pfeiffer. Detailing the meetings, rewrites, fights, firings, and distractions attendant to the making of a single picture, Monster illuminates the process with sagacity and raucous wit.


No writer captured the tragic absurdity of late twentieth century America better than John Gregory Dunne. For over forty years, he cast an unsparing eye on contemporary America, never flinching from the unpleasant truths he saw around him. Whether novels, screenplays, or nonfiction, his work was marked with a droll wit and a pointed cynicism that often examined buried aspects of public and private life in Hollywood and America at large. Regards is a celebration of Dunne’s best nonfiction, from frank observations on the film industry, politics, sports, and popular culture to tender reflections on what it was like to raise an adopted daughter. The collection spans his entire career, including his depictions of Las Vegas and an L.A. film studio, and essays from both of his existing compilations, as well as the essays from the last fifteen years of his life, never before collected. This book is a magnificent gift from one of the finest and most uncompromising writers of a generation.

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