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1. Lincoln: A Novel (Narratives of
2. Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace:
3. Creation: A Novel
4. Julian: A Novel
5. The Judgment of Paris
6. 1876: A Novel
7. Empire: A Novel
8. Dreaming War: Blood for Oil and
9. Gore Vidal: Snapshots in History's
10. Point to Point Navigation: A Memoir
11. The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2000
12. Selected Essays of Gore Vidal
13. Washington, D.C: A Novel (Narratives
14. Burr: A Novel
15. Inventing a Nation: Washington,
16. United States
17. The Decline and Fall of the American
18. Vidal in Venice
19. The City and the Pillar: A Novel
20. Kalki

1. Lincoln: A Novel (Narratives of Empire)
by Gore Vidal
Paperback: 672 Pages (2000-02-15)
list price: US$17.95 -- used & new: US$8.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375708766
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Gore Vidal's Narratives of Empire series spans the history of the United States from the Revolution to the post-World War II years. With their broad canvas and large cast of fictional and historical characters, the novels in this series present a panorama of the American political and imperial experience as interpreted by one of its most worldly, knowing, and ironic observers.

To most Americans, Abraham Lincoln is a monolithic figure, the Great Emancipator and Savior of the Union, beloved by all. In Gore Vidal's Lincoln we meet Lincoln the man and Lincoln the political animal, the president who entered a besieged capital where most of the population supported the South and where even those favoring the Union had serious doubts that the man from Illinois could save it. Far from steadfast in his abhorrence of slavery, Lincoln agonizes over the best course of action and comes to his great decision only when all else seems to fail. As the Civil War ravages his nation, Lincoln must face deep personal turmoil, the loss of his dearest son, and the harangues of a wife seen as a traitor for her Southern connections. Brilliantly conceived, masterfully executed, Gore Vidal's Lincoln allows the man to breathe again.Amazon.com Review
Lincoln is a masterwork of historical fiction, in whichGore Vidal combines a comprehensive knowledge of Civil War Americawith 20th-century literary technique, probing the minds and motives ofthe men surrounding Abraham Lincoln, including personal secretary JohnHay and scheming cabinet members William Seward and Salmon P. Chase,as well as his wife, Mary Todd. It is a book monumental in scope thatnever loses sight of the intimate and personal in its depiction of thepower struggles that accompanied Lincoln's efforts to preserve theUnion at all costs--efforts in which the eradication of slavery wasfar from the president's main objective.As usual, there's plenty ofroom for Vidal's wickedly humorous deflation of American icons,including a comic interlude in a Washington bordello in whichLincoln's former law partner informs Hay that Lincoln had contractedsyphilis as a young man and had, just before marrying Mary Todd,suffered what can only be described as a nervousbreakdown. (Protestors should note that Vidal is only passing alongwhat that former partner had written in his own biography ofLincoln.)Don't be intimidated by the size of Lincoln; if youlike historical fiction, you should read this book at the firstopportunity.--Ron Hogan ... Read more

Customer Reviews (64)

3-0 out of 5 stars Overrated
The novel is the story of Lincoln and the people surrounding him during the Civil War. In it, Lincoln is seen always in the mind of others never in his own. That could be because the author decided to take a respectful distance from the Icon which undeniable is Lincoln.

I found The book is good but far from being a masterpiece-again my opinion- as you may infer from the others reviews. From a point of view of history I think Mr. Vidal has the grades to certify the historical facts. Nevertheless you can feel that much information is lost specially from the battles which are vaguely mentioned-arguably this is a novel about Lincoln during the Civil War not the Civil War itself.
And from the point of view of the novel, It isn't as entertained as you would expect from the others reviews.

So if you are interested in history I recommend going for others history books like Battle Cry of Freedom Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford History of the United States)-by the way, far more interesting and entertaining than this novel- or Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief both excellent books about the Civil War. The former the best of the two in my opinion.

2-0 out of 5 stars Lincoln, by Gore Vidal
I found the book very hard to get into and I love history.I will try again to read it, maybe this time I'll make it through.

5-0 out of 5 stars True story about The Tycoon and The Hellcat
Lincoln by Gore Vidal

In my estimation a fictional story about actual historical characters and events can be an immense challenge for the reader familiar with the subject matter. The more knowledgeable the writer, the more apparent the novelization mirrors recorded facts just compounds the reader's dilemma. Do we fume and ruminate at the author for liberties he takes with our preconceived notions or do we toss up our hands and just enjoy the ride since it's only fiction after all. Those thoughts, and others quickly pass thought my mind as I began this book.

This acclaimed best seller has, I'm sure, been dissected, x-rayed and tarred and feathered by "experts" of all political viewpoints. Because of the book popularity individuals who stoutly advocate a particular contrary point of view will feel the most oppressed.

This reader was very impressed with how accurately the author's fiction tracked with the facts and observations concerning Lincoln's life as document by historians. Recommend with no reservations.

I just adore historical nuggets of useless information. The terms "Tycoon andHellcat" were the secret names for Lincoln and Mrs. Lincoln that his sectaries used - presumably behind their back!How did Vidal find that out?

2-0 out of 5 stars Lincoln's faith misrepresented
Recently in a tv documentary on this beloved president, Gore Vidal was interviewed a few times, and presented
Abe as not being a Christian.At first he wasn't, although Abe kept the faith his mother taught him - that of
trying to follow the old testament laws, which were "nailed to the cross" when Christ died, and a new set of
laws (only 2) came into existence.His mother didn't get to tell him this, however, so it took awhile before
he came to the truth about Jesus. It was through a woman, and it led him to pray on his knees.This
historical information was only recently released.... It was in the hands of his church, and will move
listeners to tears.
Sorry, Mr. Vidal.... the evidence is now in.


5-0 out of 5 stars Introduce yourself to Lincoln again for the first time
I really enjoyed this book because it gave me a richer experience of this history.I think this is why historical fiction is important to read.This book really brings these historical characters to life.Instead of being abstract historical figures they become human beings with real lives and problems.This is why I love (some) historical fiction because they bring these figures to life and gives readers a much more intimate and realistic portrayal of their lives.

Vidal's Lincoln is one of the finest examples of historical fiction I have yet to come across.Vidal's knowledge and his excellent style allow him to breathe new life into this story.I highly recommend this brilliant book.It will give readers a valuable perspective, and it will reintroduce readers to one of the US's most important presidents.Read this book to be entertained, but don't be surprised when you find yourself being educated at the same time.
... Read more

2. Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got to Be So Hated
by Gore Vidal
Paperback: 160 Pages (2002-03-10)
list price: US$10.00 -- used & new: US$3.53
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 156025405X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
The United States has been engaged in what the great historian Charles A. Beard called "perpetual war for perpetual peace." The Federation of American Scientists has catalogued nearly 200 military incursions since 1945 in which the United States has been the aggressor. In a series of penetrating and alarming essays, whose centerpiece is a commentary on the events of September 11, 2001 (deemed too controversial to publish until now) Gore Vidal challenges the comforting consensus following both September 11th and Timothy McVeigh's bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City: these were simply the acts of "evil-doers." ... Read more

Customer Reviews (90)

5-0 out of 5 stars Good Read
I am a huge fan of Gore Vidal. When I first purchased this book I thought it was mostly about 9/11 but the majority of the book was about the Oklahoma City bombings. At first I was a little let down but after finishing the book I was very glad he talked about the Tim Mcv. situation. He put it into a completely different light and I learned a lot about what really happened. I was only a child when it happened so it is nice to learn more about the 'why' of the bombings. Very intriguing book.

5-0 out of 5 stars America's most astute political observer
Gore Vidal is our most astute political observer and a brilliant writer. He's perhaps the 20th century's last great essayist. His insights about the rotten state of America's governance and the shredding of the Constitution are incisive. Definitely worth reading and thinking about.

5-0 out of 5 stars Perpetual War<Perpetual Peace=Perpetual Ignorance
In short, if you want to find out in very linear fashion, "How we got to be so hated," I highly recommend reading Mr. Gore's book. Very succinctly, eloquently, and at times BLUNTLY, Gore Vidal dissects the US government's foreign policies which are at the very-still-beating heart of "HOW."

This is a quick and enlightening read (some of the foreign conflicts and "operations" I knew of, many more I did not), and something of which every thinking American should be aware.

Books like this, make me ever-thankful that the First Amendment is still in effect.

4-0 out of 5 stars Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace - Well Named
I feel remiss that I didn't read this book when it came out six years ago, but I'm glad I finally read it. Mr. Vidal brings some emotional life into what is normally a lifeless policy-wonk issue and I can't stress how important it is to absorb his message - that we've completely given ourselves to a foreign dictated by military industrial interests.He emphasizes that our dealings around the world and at home are with people, and dehumanizing them serves no one's interests.

In a particularly long study, the author introduces us to Timothy McVeigh the Oklahoma Murrah Building bomber.I was in downtown Oklahoma that day and lost people to that tragedy, so it was hard for me to understand that Vidal wasn't condoning his actions or justifying them, but instead showing the reader that McVeigh had human motivations to do that horrible thing. Understanding, on their own terms, if you will.It shows that we can sit down and learn from people when it comes down to a one on one because humans can relate at some level with every other human. Randy Weaver, David Koresh, and even Osama bin Laden have motivations that can be understood and when those motivations are understood, it's possible to reach those people before it escalates into violence, murder, or tragedy.

Vidal takes us back to 1947 when Dean Acheson advocated scaring the hell out of the American people in order to justify a wartime military budget and in turn pumps corporate money from those interests into the political system, essentially buying elections.He tells the story of a foreign policy out of control and nonsensical where money trumps humanity every time.He tells the story of an empire driven by it's privatized industrial military without controlling it.

What is America "doing" in the name of its citizens, under the cover of democracy?Vidal publishes pages of aggressive military intervention around the globe and posits the question - have we made things better, or worse?

Finally what Vidal does is ring a clarion call to Americans to stand up and ask questions - hard, probing questions.Don't let the media run interference and don't let accountability be shirked.It used to be our government and it's time to take it back.

- CV Rick, February 2008

5-0 out of 5 stars A fantastic read, highly recommended!
Enlightening, scary, provocative, opinionated, funny - what more do you want from a book?

What a breath of fresh air he is! ... Read more

3. Creation: A Novel
by Gore Vidal
Paperback: 592 Pages (2002-08-27)
list price: US$17.95 -- used & new: US$10.06
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375727051
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
A sweeping novel of politics, war, philosophy, and adventure–in a restored edition, featuring never-before-published material from Gore Vidal’s original manuscript–Creation offers a captivating grand tour of the ancient world.
Cyrus Spitama, grandson of the prophet Zoroaster and lifelong friend of Xerxes, spent most of his life as Persian ambassador for the great king Darius. He traveled to India, where he discussed nirvana with Buddha, and to the warring states of Cathay, where he learned of Tao from Master Li and fished on the riverbank with Confucius. Now blind and aged in Athens–the Athens of Pericles, Sophocles, Thucydides, Herodotus, and Socrates–Cyrus recounts his days as he strives to resolve the fundamental questions that have guided his life’s journeys: how the universe was created, and why evil was created with good. In revisiting the fifth century b.c.–one of the most spectacular periods in history–Gore Vidal illuminates the ideas that have shaped civilizations for millennia.
Amazon.com Review
In 445 B.C., Cyrus Spitama, the grandson of the prophetZoroaster, is the Persian ambassador to the city of Athens. He has arather caustic appreciation of his situation: "I am blind. But I amnot deaf. Because of the incompleteness of my misfortune, I wasobliged yesterday to listen for nearly six hours to a self-styledhistorian whose account of what the Athenians like to call 'thePersian Wars' was nonsense of a sort that were I less old and moreprivileged, I would have risen to my seat at the Odeon and scandalizedall Athens by answering him." Having thus dismissed Herodotus, Cyrusthen dictates his life story to his nephew, Democritus, with similardisdain for the Greeks--whom we in the modern world have come to viewas the progenitors of civilization, but whom Cyrus considers to bebad-smelling rabble.

Of course, Cyrus Spitama speaks with a very modern, ironic voicesupplied to him by Gore Vidal--and the political intrigues in whichCyrus finds himself immersed are likewise familiar territory for fansof Vidal's historical fiction. But the narrator's delightfully wickedobservations are the icing on a narrative of truly epic scope--out ofhis desire to understand the origins of the world, Cyrus undertakesjourneys to India, where he encounters disciples of the Buddha, andChina, where he engages Confucius in philosophical conversation whilethe great sage fishes by the riverside. Creation offersinsights into classical history laced with scintillating wit andnarrative brio. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (50)

5-0 out of 5 stars Incredible...
Probably the single most impressive novel I have ever read by any author. The amount of research and literary craftsmanship that went into this book is astounding.

5-0 out of 5 stars Review of Gore Vidal's 'Creation'
This is truly an amazing saga of history and philosophy. Vidal presents something of an ancient Forrest Gump--a simple witness of great men and a great era. One can only imagine the vast measure of research and personal knowledge required to create a novel as intricate and insightful as this one. 'Creation' is certainly the best work of historical fiction I've read this year.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent and relevant
Vidal's Creation is a wonderful work of fiction "masquerading as history" to quote another reviewer. Literally a tour of the known world at height of Persian power, in page-turner prose. I read this after a recommendation from Charles Hill in his recent Grand Strategies (also excellent) and wanted to reacquaint myself with this period of history while taking a break from non-fiction. And while Creation is a work of fiction, throughout are life lessons; lessons in the fragility and frailty of human beings and their systems of governance and their competing philosophies. Highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of Vidal's best

Read this and also "Julian" for some excellent historical fictionalization. Very satisfying read. Good condition, fast shipping.

2-0 out of 5 stars Not up to Gore Vidal's usual standards
As a Gore Vidal fan I was disappointed in his Creation book.I am a lover of historical fiction but not religion. The page is full of questioning and thoughts of after life, gods, etc. Notmy cup of tea. ... Read more

4. Julian: A Novel
by Gore Vidal
Paperback: 528 Pages (2003-08-12)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$8.73
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 037572706X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
The remarkable bestseller about the fourth-century Roman emperor who famously tried to halt the spread of Christianity, Julian is widely regarded as one of Gore Vidal’s finest historical novels.

Julian the Apostate, nephew of Constantine the Great, was one of the brightest yet briefest lights in the history of the Roman Empire. A military genius on the level of Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great, a graceful and persuasive essayist, and a philosopher devoted to worshipping the gods of Hellenism, he became embroiled in a fierce intellectual war with Christianity that provoked his murder at the age of thirty-two, only four years into his brilliantly humane and compassionate reign. A marvelously imaginative and insightful novel of classical antiquity, Julian captures the religious and political ferment of a desperate age and restores with blazing wit and vigor the legacy of an impassioned ruler. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (64)

5-0 out of 5 stars Good historical fiction with lots of good history
Gore Vidal's Julian is a work of historical fiction, that with its good foundation of true history, makes for a very enjoyable read.I personally love this time period, the fourth century AD, and the transition from rule in Rome to that in Constantinople. While Vidal attempted to generate a history with life to it, his own personal anti-Christian views became embodied a too much in the character Julian.

Julian the Apostate reigned for about three years, and in that time, tried to replace paganism as the state religion, which had occurred for show during the reign of Constantine the Great. While he attempted to do this, which was very popular with the army, the general population had moved on and Julian's dream of a pagan empire was possibly killed by him.

The shape of the novel is an exchange of letters between two friends, Priscus and Libanius, and the personal journal of Julian.Both Pricus and Libanius are writing some fifteen years later during the reign of Valentinian I, and are attempting to publish the memoirs in an attempt to put positive spin on Julian and also as a volume of anti-Christian rhetoric to use against pagan persecution.

As a bit of a spoiler, the novel has at the end, the angry Christian faction of Julian's army assassinating him by one of his body guards.While this does sit well within reason for the political climate of the time, historians generally agree that he was probably was killed in battle against the Persians. One thing that I think Vidal got right is that Julian never uttered at his death, the words "Thou hast conquered, Galilean". This is just a fragment of revisionist history done by Theodoret, a Christian writer with an ax to grind against the former emperor.

Overall, this novel is fairly true to history, but more importantly, is a good story about a man, who through his seeming unwillingness to rule, ended up being a better ruler than most of his contemporaries. This is a good read, and I highly recommend.

4-0 out of 5 stars A new Augustus?
I read and reviewed this novel forty-six years ago when it was newly published. After re-reading both novel and callow review (it was for a college literary magazine!) I find a glimpse of myself as a younger, more certain man and of Julian as a man of whom much was expected. At the time, I thought of Julian as a late Roman John Kennedy, a carrier of hope cut off before his dreams could be realized (it was that kind of moment). On reflection, I'm less generous of both Vidal's snippy interpretation and Julian's failures both of promise and of delivery, a man who discovered too soon that his dreams were hallucinations.

The Rome described bears little resemblance to Rome as it was in its days of greatness; in fact the name appears as an adjective to describe a world order rather than to describe a by-then backwater city, more Old Detroit than the Imperial City of the Augustan Age. The concepts that made brought Rome grandeur even when their promise was violated had long passed, devastated by plagues, bankruptcy, internal strife and civil war, and a general exhaustion. To be Roman meant to have a pulse; to dream of greatness meant to pine for a stronger Euro. Instead of dominating the world, "with war the proud to overbear", Rome bribes the tribes and struggles even to deal with Persia as an equal.

I've come to believe that Julian's quest for a return to Paganism was misdirection, though Vidal clearly disagrees. The spread of Christianity or any revolutionary order reflects, as always, the failure of the old order to provide hope and optimism. The fact that Rome embraced an obscure Eastern mystery cult that at its core excluded them indicates how spiritually bankrupt that order had become.

The text is presented and critiqued, appropriately, by two aging Pagan philosophers, last of a dying breed: the stuffy, conservative Priscus and the more accepting Libanius. This is quite appropriate. Vidal lets the multiheaded spirit of the East, from the charlatan Maximus to the Academe of Athens set Julian's journey. But Julian is ultimately a child of the West -- still vigorous and able to trade blow for blow with enemies. When he follows Paganism instead of the genius of Rome he sets off on the road to ruin.

Vidal is acutely aware of this tension, but I've never been quite sure where it leads him any more than it does Julian. My impression nearly five decades ago is, comfortingly, unchanged. I still don't quite understand Julian, and I'm not alrogether certain Vidal did; or if he understood Julian, he preferred to keep the mystery to himself, in Eleusis.

5-0 out of 5 stars Real power
When you are born into greatness, you may be forgiven for exhibiting a sense of destiny or an assumption of purpose. When you also find yourself marginalised, you may also be praised for a decision to pursue philosophy and learning alongside religious purity. When the celebrity that is your birthright also suggests that others might prefer you dead, you might be excused for wanting to keep your head down. But then you were born into greatness and had no choice in the matter. Your head is permanently above the parapet.

Gore Vidal's masterpiece of historical fiction works on every level. The Roman emperor Julian is his subject. The novel charts Julian's origins and early years in the eastern part of the late Roman Empire. He thinks of himself as Greek, never really masters Latin and never willingly expresses himself in it. Neither is he one of those new-fangled Galilean types who espouse a new religion with three gods. No, Julian is a traditionalist, though not because of a propensity for conservatism, but more because the tried and tested has worked for centuries, continues to do so and, crucially, reveals itself to him. Like his own pedigree, the old religion has an identity and record all its own and, alongside that, proven power. He takes this stand despite the habit of conversion, manifest in Constantine's adoption of the new faith, running in the family.

Julian's form - in the sense of literary form - works with remarkable success and consistency. It is presented as his own journal, jottings toward an intended autobiography. But these notes have been pored over by two readers, Libanius and Priscus, both of whom the emperor has known since childhood. Since they are both also teachers, philosophers and advisers, their marginal comments are themselves interesting, enlightening and definitely not to be trusted.

The book, thus, is a linear progression through a life, something akin to an autobiography in note form. It describes Julian's early formation and education in detail and his almost Masonic adoption into the old religion. It captures beautifully how pragmatism must rule, despite the necessity of being faithful to ideology. It relates with great skill how greatness can be thrust upon even a willing recipient, be accepted, and yet be no more than a manifestation of cynical pragmatism.

So when Julian is summoned to the status of Caesar, we see immediately that power prefers him on the inside projecting minimally outwards, rather than outside and potentially polluting. His changed status warrants a posting to Gaul to clear up the mess left by others less competent, a hospital pass if ever there was one.

But Julian astounds all. He succeeds. He has the Midas touch. Everything goes his way and his pragmatism marries itself to opportunism to generate a populist mongrel that fights better, schemes more ruthlessly and thus wins. What it never does, however, is forget its origins. Throughout it remains frugal, thrifty and to the point, the greatness thrust upon it is reinvested towards achieving a greater, but ever-receding glory.

Gore Vidal's Julian thus raises its subject to Augustan status and follows the new leader to the east where he engages Persia and dreams of conquering India. Is this Alexander reborn? What the book does not do - thankfully - is offer detailed descriptions of military matters, since Julian himself has already written on these things elsewhere. This neat ploy keeps the focus of the book on the man, not his exploits. Late sections are in note form only, since the emperor was engaged with his day job of attempted world domination.

As historical fiction, Julian has it all. It recreates a feeling of the places. It relives decisions and options in a thoroughly convincing way. It fleshes out events with credible, fallible people, despite their occasional god status. Above all, it takes you there.

5-0 out of 5 stars reviewed this already
I have reviewed this already before....I got this for my husband and I cannot review it.

4-0 out of 5 stars Julian Had the Right Idea
The Roman Emperor Julian, nephew of Constantine and last of the Flavians, had the right idea, that is, and if his ambitious reforms had succeeded, I'm quite sure the history of the many centuries from his reign to the present would have witnessed fewer atrocities and stupidities!!!

Well, I'm really not so sure of that, humanity having its little ways, but I choose to say so out of pure provocation, which was also Gore Vidal's prime motive for writing this fiction. The key here, dear reader, will be whether you know enough history to be provoked, If you have little or no idea who Julian was in real life, or what he attempted, you will not be properly provoked by my statement. You will also NOT enjoy this book; you need to understand what was, and is, at stake. Besides, the allusive humor of Vidal's writing will escape you. This is not sound history; it's merely a snarky, playful diversion for the educated elite.

And it's an imitation, at best, of Robert Graves's "I Claudius." It suffers from that comparison. The real Julian was in many ways a more impressive and interesting figure than the absurd Claudius, although the latter had greater success in the end than the former. But Vidal seems to have been unable to decide whether to treat his "hero" with full-snark mockery or with grudging admiration. The whole book teeters between Vidal's urge to land squarely in Julian's camp, treating his ideals with high seriousness, and his contrary urge to take nothing seriously, to spatter his scorn generously on each and all. Vidal patently sees himself in the lineage of Oscar Wilde and Robert Graves, as a supercilious, merciless social critic. He comes close enough to be amusing. I've given this book four stars as a cautionary rating for a general readership. If you're the sort of reader who appreciates snide wit and relentless skepticism, you'll surely want to rate it higher. ... Read more

5. The Judgment of Paris
by Gore Vidal
Paperback: 352 Pages (2007-03-28)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$0.01
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786719923
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

Set in post-war Europe, fresh-out-of-law-school Philip Warren takes a year to discover his future. In this classic coming-of-age story, Philip journeys through various affairs, misadventures, and cities full of unforgettable characters that prompt his self-discovery and lessons on taking pleasure in both love and life.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Books I've Read
Lucid and entertaining, this coming of age novel follows the travels of Philip Warren as he discovers himself and contemplates his future with the help of a diverse gaggle of characters. Vidal captured the essence of the modern world while including the grandeur of the ancient tales that so captivate us all.

I personally have never read a book that I liked so much that when I turned he final page, I reopened the first and proceeded to read it again. The Judgment of Paris is truly a delightful story, I recommend this book to both fans of Vidal and to those who have never heard of him before.

5-0 out of 5 stars In the beginning...
This is the first true Vidal novel. The value of those that went before this work are valuable more for their content than style ("Williwaw" and "City and the Pillar" - both strongly recommended nonetheless). With the Judgment of Paris, Vidal became the heir to a beautiful tradition that may be traced back to Thomas Mann's "The Magic Mountain" and Somerset Maugham's "Christmas Holiday."

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!
Gore Vidal's wit and humour sparkle in this tale of a young american boy traveling Europe in search of a purpose to his life. Like Paris, he knows the lures of power, knowlwdge and love, represented by three fascinating women. The characterization and the detailing of the major and minor charachters make of this book a masterpiece, full of wry notations and often exilarating situations. A must read!

5-0 out of 5 stars Vintage Vidal
In his memoirs, Gore Vidal calls this novel the beginning of his literary voice. It is a joy to read, and appears to have been a joy to write, for this youthful, vibrant, charismatic novel flows effortlessly through cities, affairs, and misadventures. Colorful characters abound -- early on there's an uproariously matter-of-fact description of our hero's casual fling with the wife of an American power broker. The mythological superstructure of the book -- glorious youth flirting with power, wisdom, and love -- is light enough for Vidal's characters to prance and amuse. It's a nice departure from his oh-so-serious historical novels and a welcome, balletic hop into Vidal's fantasies. He wrote this novel around 1950 -- when peace and prosperity were just re-emerging after wartime. Read this book, if only to see Gore Vidal exercise a masterful light touch years before he turned bitter. ... Read more

6. 1876: A Novel
by Gore Vidal
Paperback: 384 Pages (2000-02-15)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$6.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375708723
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Gore Vidal's Narratives of Empire series spans the history of the United States from the Revolution to the post-World War II years. With their broad canvas and large cast of fictional and historical characters, the novels in this series present a panorama of the American political and imperial experience as interpreted by one of its most worldly, knowing, and ironic observers.

The centennial of the United States was celebrated with great fanfare--fireworks, exhibitions, pious calls to patriotism, and perhaps the most underhanded political machination in the country's history: the theft of the presidency from Samuel Tilden in favor of Rutherford B. Hayes. This was the Gilded Age, when robber barons held the purse strings of the nation, and the party in power was determined to stay in power. Gore Vidal's 1876 gives us the news of the day through the eyes of Charlie Schuyler, who has returned from exile to regain a lost fortune and arrange a marriage into New York society for his widowed daughter. And although Tammany Hall has faltered and Boss Tweed has fled, the effects of corruption reach deep, even into Schuyler's own family.Amazon.com Review
The more things change, the more they stay the same: "The lastfew days would have brought down any parliamentary government. As itis, the Grant Administration is a shambles, and there is even talkthat the President may resign."

Charles Schuyler, the narrator of Burr, returns to theUnited States after an absence of nearly 40 years, with his widoweddaughter, Emma, in tow. While they try to find a suitably rich husbandfor Emma among the New York social set, Charles concentrates on thescandals in Washington--including accusations of corruption andobstruction of justice against Ulysses S. Grant--and the presidentialrace between Rutherford B. Hayes and Democrat Samuel Tilden (Tildenapparently, in fact, won the election, only to have it takenaway because of electoral fraud). Cameo appearances by ChesterA. Arthur, Mark Twain, Charles Nordhoff, and others enliven theproceedings. --Ron Hogan ... Read more

Customer Reviews (21)

4-0 out of 5 stars Vidal take on the 1876 election - compelling
After have read and enjoyed author Vidal's Lincoln and Burr I was to some extent disappointed with this book - the third in his semi fictional American History series. The narrator, Charlie Schuyler, is Burr's illegitimate son returned from France with his titled daughter. Using his considerable skills as a writer and many contacts in New York he works to rescue the family financial fortunes.

Vidal employs his sharp wit and biting sense of irony scrutinizing the last year of the scandal beset Grant administration and the 1876 election. Charlie Schuyler, employed as a political reporter, has a ringside seat to survey all of the political mischief and associated back room wheeling and dealing. He has a personal stake in the election outcome: a prior arrangement as the ambassador to France if Governor Tilton of New York is elected.

When Vidal is conveying detail of the depressing tale of voter fraud and influence pedaling the story is compelling reading. Unfortunately for this reader long sections of this novel concerns the comings and going of New York high society and long forgotten politicians. I am just not seeped in the knowledge of the era so I found many chapters tedious and uninteresting.Nonetheless I would recommend this book just for the enthralling story of the 1876 election.

3-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating but flawed
This novel is Gore Vidal's fascinating look at the politics and society of the gilded age through his protagonist Charles Schuyler.After reading the first seventy-odd pages, I was thoroughly captivated (had I discovered a new favorite author?) by the observations of the expatriot Schuyler returning to New York City.The various political storylines and characters were slowly introduced, leading me to anticipate a monumental telling of that incredible election (one that I had to this point only read about in dry histories).The portrayals of politicians like Samuel Tilden, James Blaine, Ulysses Grant were magnificent.Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about Mr. Schuyler's society commentary, which would have subtracted little from my enjoyment if it did not take up the majority of the book.As it is, many chapters are full of Mr. Schuyler dining and conversing with New York society, telling us over and over again of the shortcomings of these people.His daughter seems to have little purpose in the novel other than to serve as a fellow European with whom he can share a laugh about the ignorant Americans.This was amusing the first time, but must Vidal introduce so many society characters just to mock them?These entirely superfluous characters quickly grew tiresome, and I found myself waiting impatiently for Governor Tilden to make an appearance.

Nearly half the novel is complete before Mr. Schuyler finally departs New York society for his job as a political reporter.When Mr. Schuyler does leave New York, important events are rushed through with little commentary.Vidal sends Mr. Schuyler to cover the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, but we are told very little of it.And while Vidal introduces Senators Conkling and Blaine in some detail, the Republican Convention where they are both defeated by Rutherford Hayes is rushed through in just three and a half pages.Hayes, the eventual president, is almost entirely ignored.

I can't help but think this book is in need of some serious editing, and it's a shame since there is great book buried somewhere in here.This was my first Vidal, and I will definitely be reading more of his 'Narratives of Empire' series - even if they are all as frustrating as this one.It was definitely still worth the read.

1-0 out of 5 stars Run of the mill
Poorly written, poorly conceived and quite boring, maybe he wasn't well when he wrote this book....Gore ->you are not Thackeray!!!

4-0 out of 5 stars Hail To The Thief, Part I
Listen up! As a general proposition I like my history straight up- facts, footnotes and all. There is enough work just keeping up with that so that historical novels don't generally get a lot of my attention. In this space I have reviewed some works of the old American Stalinist Howard Fast around the American Revolution and the ex-Communist International official and Trotsky biographer Victor Serge about Stalinist times in Russia of the 1930's, but not much else. However, one of the purposes of this space is to acquaint the new generation with a sense of history and an ability to draw some lessons from that history, if possible.

That is particularly true for American history- the main arena that we have to glean some progressive ideas from. Thus, an occasional foray, using the historical novel in order to get a sense of the times, is warranted. Frankly, there are few better at this craft that the old bourgeois historical novelist and social commentator Gore Vidal. Although his politics are somewhere back in the Camelot/FDR period (I don't think he ever got over being related to Jacqueline Kennedy) he has a very good ear for the foibles of the American experience- read him with that caveat in mind.

In 2008, a presidential election year, it may not be inappropriate to look back to an earlier time when a presidential election was seriously in dispute. No, not the hanging chads of Florida in 2000 but the granddaddy of bourgeois electoral boondoggles with the Electoral College victory (but not popular vote) of Ohio Governor Rutherfraud B. Hayes over Governor Samuel Tilden of New York in 1876. Vidal, as is his style, combines fictional characters with the makings and doings of real characters who brought the American experience to the brink of another 'civil war' just shortly after the end of the truly bloody one that preserved the union and abolished slavery in 1865. He does this by using a literary man, a long time American expatriate ( in France) journalist (who else, right?) the fictional Charles Schuyler to narrate (and who also narrated Vida''s novel Burr back in the early part of the century) the scenes. To add motive to his literary efforts and carry the story line along, dear Charles, is desperate for Governor Tilden to win the presidency so that he can return to Europe in some style as an American ambassador to France under a Tilden administration.

Along the way brother Schuyler (and his noble, but penniless, widowed daughter Emma) brings into focus the beginnings of the dominance of the "robber barons", up close and personal, that we have heard about from our high school history tests, during the last part of the 19th century. Interestingly, this novel is populated with plenty of characters who came of political age during the immediate Civil War period and who populated the Lincoln administration or the various Union military commands of the Civil War period. Gone are those political figures like Seward, Chase and obviously Lincoln who actually led that political fight. This is the age of the upstart General Grant, for better or worst.

This is, moreover, a period that had more than its fair share of political graft and boondoggles. Seemingly half the book is spend explaining why some politician be he a Grant Administration official, Roscoe Conkling, James Blaine or some other `angel of mercy' should not be behind bars. Today's politicians seem tame compared to these giants of out-front, in-your-face corruption. In the end, one is not really surprised when the America presidency goes on sale to the highest bidder- it's just another day of politics. All of this with the American Centennial celebration as a backdrop. Fortunately Vidal tells this tale with some wit and some kind of hope that all will work out for the best- in short this American Republic the "last, best hope of mankind" will muddle through. Remember the 2000 presidential election though as a sobering thought about how far we have not come. That undemocratic but decisive Electoral College is still there, for starters. More on Vidal's works later.

2-0 out of 5 stars Not his best
Vidal has written some of the most engaging and impressive works of historical fiction ever put to paper, but this one is not one of them.The characters are flat, and the Europeanized American protagonist makes it difficult to finish the book.Indeed, Vidal's leftist commentary on American history gets tiresome here.For better Vidal, try "Julian". ... Read more

7. Empire: A Novel
by Gore Vidal
Paperback: 496 Pages (2000-08-01)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$5.69
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 037570874X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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"Mr. Vidal demonstrates a political imagination and insider's sagacity equaled by no other practicing fiction writer I can think of. And like the earlier novels in his historical cycle, Empire is a wonderfully vivid documentary drama." —The New York Times Book Review

In this extraordinarily powerful epic Gore Vidal recreates America's Gilded Age—a period of promise and possibility, of empire-building and fierce political rivalries. In a vivid and beathtaking work of fiction, where the fortunes of a sister and brother intertwine with the fates of the generation, their country, and some of the greatest names of their day, including President McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William Jennings Bryan, William and Henry James, the Astors, the Vanderbilts, and the Whitneys, Gore Vidal sweeps us from the nineteenth century into the twentieth, from the salvaged republic of Lincoln to a nation boldly reaching for the world.

From the Paperback edition. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

4-0 out of 5 stars Present At The Creation Of The American Imperium
The name Gore Vidal should be no stranger to the readers of this space. I have in the recent past reviewed his earlier American historical novels "Burr", "Lincoln", and "1876" that form something of a backdrop to the book under review, "Empire". Although I have noted, in those previous reviews, that I generally take my history lessons "straight" from historical writers, occasionally, as with the case of Vidal, I am more than happy to see history tweaked a little in novel form. Vidal does not disappoint here, although the cast of characters, past and present, overall form a weaker story line at the end of the 19th century with the rise of the power-driven American imperial impulses than his earlier efforts. That may say something about what kind of misbegotten characters the age produced, variously known as the "Gilded Age", "The Age Of The Robber Barons" and the "Age Of The Rise Of The American Imperium", as those in power threw into the dustbin of history that quaint and old-fashioned term coined by Lincoln about the American republic being "the last, best hope for mankind".

Vidal's historical novels work on two levels, which may account for their appeal to political types like me. First is the thread that holds all the novels together in the person, fictionalized or not, of Aaron Burr and his progeny, or better, alleged progeny who, helter-skelter, keep making odd appearances in each work and generally product a main character for each succeeding novel. Here the Burr connection is in the person of Caroline Sanford, a young, feisty, independent woman of the late 19th century linked to Burr through her grandfather (maybe)who wants to take her part in a quintessentially man's world riding the crest of the rising prominence of the print media. Her struggle for her place in the sun (and her fight with her half-brother over rightful inheritance)is the core personal story told here.

The second level is the liberal use of real historical figures, usually high government officials or other worthies, as seen in their "off-duty" endeavors, usually pursuing some power position or a sexual adventure. Or both. That's about right for this milieu, agreed? Although the gap between fictional and real characters is sometimes blurred, here mainly Lincoln's old personal White House secretary John Hay who now has come, front and center, into his own as President McKinley's Secretary of State in the aftermath of the 1898 Spanish-American War, that `splendid little war that started the American republic full-throttle on the road to the imperium. Obviously, no Gilded Age period piece is complete without many pages on the "exploits", political and military, of one "Teddy" Roosevelt. Brother Vidal takes old Teddy down a peg or two here.

To finish off the period, and to note the decline of the original Puritan/Yankee spirit that drove the early history of this country, the last major prominent member of the Adams clan(excluding Brook Adams who has a cameo role here), Henry, is brought in as a weak conscious-driven counterweight to the "hard-pans" (read: new rich) who would dominate the American scene in the 20th century and whose progeny still burden us today. This is a quick read but a thoughtful novel of the perils of America's starting down that imperial road to replace the British Empire as the main world power. Worst though we are still dealing with the ramifications of those decisions today. Read the real history but also read Vidal.

5-0 out of 5 stars An exceptional novel
This historical novel takes place roughly between the years 1898 and 1906. The novel is seen through the eyes of three characters: one who actually existed, William McKinnley's and Theodore Roosevelt's Secretary of State John Hay; and the other two are purely fictious, the aristocratic half-siblings Caroline and Blaise Sanford. Vidal uses his immense knowledge of the intricacies of all the political controversies, large and small of the period, and personal conflicts among the elite Americans described here.

Those elite Americans who make frequent appearances in this book include Henry Adams, Theodore Roosevelt, and William Randolph Hearst. However, many of the other prominent characters of the period also make appearances: Mark Hanna, Henry James, William Jennings Bryan, William McKinley, etc. Vidal portrays James, one of his favorite novelists, in a funny way in that James speaks in that long winded wordy way that he wrote most of his novels.

Blaise is a chief lieutenant of Hearst before he strikes out on his own. For most of the novel he is in legal battle with Caroline over the disbursement of their latefather's estate. Caroline herself can probably be said to be the main character of this book. She manages to make a modest success as the publisher of the Washington Tribune. However, she gets herself into trouble when she starts an affair with a disconcertingly good looking married freshman congressman named James Burden Day. This affair starts when Caroline is 25 and is her first sexual experience.

The part of the book describing the first sexual encounter between Caroline and the Congressman is probably the worst written part of the book. We see Jim and Caroline at a party in the midst of other aristocrats; then they are talking;then Vidal through the thoughts of Caroline, heaves tedious lengthy metaphors about food and Greek gods at the reader in the midst of which Jim's hand is sneaking towards Caroline's [...]; then we have Jim asking why, if Caroline is a virgin, there is no blood coming out of her frontal private area. Then we have the news that Jim pays a visit to Caroline's home every Sunday for a session in Caroline's bath tub and bed.

Vidal has the tendency to put his own intelligent observations and metaphors about certain characters into the minds of his characters, which makes the latter seem not always 100 percent plausible. When I was reading the book I thought the dialogue between the characters was sometimes a bit wooden but then I when I finished the book I thought maybe it was plausible enough. One or two of the scenes of lofty philosophical conversation between Caroline and Henry Adams, in the latter intellectual giant's drawing room, seemed somewhat implausible and maybe a little pointless for the novel's purpose.

Vidal's fiction is always a pleasure to read.In this book, he demonstrates his usual genius mastery in describing the buildings, people, streets and other details in the historical epoch in which the novel takes place.His prose is always clear and graceful, sometimes really extraordinarily so. The way he portrays American politics at the turn of the Century is really quite effective. The American people were restless under the extreme corruption and brutality of the big businessmen who controlled politics. Vidal effectively shows the sordidness of all this towards the end of the novel, with the conflict between William Randolph Hearst and Theodore Roosevelt. Hearst, who is excluded from the drawing rooms of most aristocrats because of his uncouth journalistic practices, finds solace in posing as a champion of ordinary people, a reformer and progressive. Of course, what he really wants is political power and he is willing to make alliances with anybody, including the bosses of New York's Tammany Hall, to whom he is theoretically in opposition. Theodore Roosevelt similarly poses as a Progressive, but his substantive gestures towards seriously regulating corporate power and political corruption are not much. The climax comes when Roosevelt gets wind that Hearst has obtained copies of numerous letters from the man who disperses bribes for John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil to politicians, to those politicians. A letter from this man to Theodore Roosevelt is in this file but its meaning is unclear.Hearst wants to print these letters in his newspapers at politically opportune times during his own quest for political offices such as New York governor and President.The last scene in the novel is a meeting between WRH and TR at the White House where each man gives to the other, very unflattering opinions about the other. Vidal says at the end of the novel that WRH and TR really did have a meeting at the White House relating to Standard Oil corruption and Roosevelt's link to it, but no one one really knows for sure what was said in it. Nonetheless, the dialogue Vidal places in the mouths of the men, are accurate renditions of what they really thought, he explains.

2-0 out of 5 stars Major bore
I realize that I'm supposed to think "Empire" is brilliant, because it's Gore Vidal, but it is a major bore.Nothing actually happens; its just 400+ pages of dialogue.A well-written conventional history of the period would be more enjoyable and more informative.This is a total snooze-fest.

5-0 out of 5 stars Hearst's mighty pen trumps Roosevelt's big stick
Although Vidal provides a shotgun approach to character development, Empire is best viewed in the perspective of two primary conflicts; one among fictional characters (Caroline and Blaise Sanford) and the other among two historical players (Theodore Roosevelt and William Randolph Hearst). Only through fictional characters could Vidal create narrators capable of such convoluted and impossibly rich experiences that they could come into critical conversations with so many historical characters. Caroline and Blaise are half-siblings who rival for the same fortune and unravel a dark secret regarding their respective dead mothers.

McKinley and Roosevelt both have imperialistic aims with racist purpose. Both want America to fill the power vacuum created by the decline of the British Empire; both feel it is the duty of the civilized Americans to be stewards for the primitive races of the Asian, Caribbean and Pacific Islands. To the regnant aristocracy, war is the natural state of man. Hearst, McKinley and Roosevelt are portrayed as not only making war inevitable, but also desirable. The respectable and intellectual few, best exemplified by John Hay and the Five Hearts, are more conscientious, but remain low key compared to the dashing and charismatic politicians bent on imperialism and self-promotion.

Hearst is an antihero similar to Satan in Milton's "Paradise Lost." Clearly, Hearst is a manipulative megalomaniac, but he is much more interesting character than the prudent McKinley or the bellicose Teddy Roosevelt. Although the Hearst who instigated the Spanish-American war of 1898 and incited the assassination of McKinley connotes horror and repulsion, Vidal clearly enjoys Hearst's vapidity and ingenuity. Hearst is a cad to the American nobles, but he is able to history on his own terms and to suit his own purposes. Using inaccurate and biased propaganda, Hearst is flamboyant and irresponsible, exploiting the indifferent American masses while inventing heroes to lead them. To Vidal, Hearst created public opinion, while Roosevelt simply rode public opinion. Therefore, Hearst is the inventor of the modern world while Roosevelt simply followed his lead.

4-0 out of 5 stars Fun and informative.
Empire is fun to read, and informative.I trust Vidal's history, and in fact, his scrupulousness may be reflected in the book's major fault.The historical characters are very static: it seems Vidal does not wish to use his imagination to embroider on the actual historical record, so that by the end of the book I began to grow tired ofHays and Adams and even Theodore Roosevelt (contrast to Max Byrd's "Jackson").Of the two prominent fictional characters, Carolyn Sanford, the more important, is engaging, interesting and well developed.The writing is witty, often droll.No citizen, after reading this novel, will long for the "good old days"of politics. ... Read more

8. Dreaming War: Blood for Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta (Nation Books)
by Gore Vidal
Paperback: 176 Pages (2002-12-16)
list price: US$11.95 -- used & new: US$3.07
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B0013LRB8E
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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When Gore Vidal's recent New York Times bestseller Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace was published, the Los Angeles Times described Vidal as the last defender of the American republic. In Dreaming War, Vidal continues this defense by confronting the Cheney-Bush junta head on in a series of devastating essays that demolish the lies American Empire lives by, unveiling a counter-history that traces the origins of America's current imperial ambitions to the experience of World War Two and the post-war Truman doctrine. And now, with the Cheney-Bush leading us into permanent war, Vidal asks whose interests are served by this doctrine of pre-emptive war? Was Afghanistan turned to rubble to avenge the 3,000 slaughtered on September 11? Or was "the unlovely Osama chosen on aesthetic grounds to be the frightening logo for our long contemplated invasion and conquest of Afghanistan?" After all he was abruptly replaced with Saddam Hussein once the Taliban were overthrown. And while "evidence" is now being invented to connect Saddam with 9/11, the current administration are not helped by "stories in the U.S. press about the vast oil wealth of Iraq which must- for the sake of the free world- be reassigned to U.S. consortiums." ... Read more

Customer Reviews (77)

5-0 out of 5 stars Quick Read
I thought this book brought to light some interesting points. I enjoy reading Gore Vidal's books because he looks at things differently. He has seen alot in his lifetime and he actually has made a point to follow everything.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Hobo Philosopher
Mr. Vidal, well known and much despised by many on the right, makes the case of "conspiracy" within the present Bush administration. He points out the major oil connections of all the main players - Rice, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Bush Sr., Bush Jr. and others. He explains the Bush connection to Osama ben Laden and Al Quida. He links a possible 911 conspiracy to the historical conspiracy traditions - Pearl Harbor and FDR and Wilson and World War I. He connects oil to Afghanistan (Unocal pipe line) and to a "possible" invasion of Iraq. He tells of the training of the Taliban and Al Quida by the Reagan administration and the American Special Forces and the CIA. He goes on and on and on - and from what I can see many of his claims with regards to the present Bush and his administration have now been exposed as fact by even the main stream media.

At some points he begins to sound like the Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reily of the left. He is so maligned and persecuted. He goes on once again harping on poor Sally Hemmings. His views on FDR and his Pearl Harbor conspiracy and the uninformed General and Admiral in command at Pearl Harbor are not substantiated. I've read most of the material and Vidal is just in claiming that there is a vast supply of literature on this subject. But he neglects to mention that most of this vast supply of literature does not support his theory. Certainly for every pro there is an equally valid con. It may be true that Japan was pressured but they certainly had other options besides a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. It is equally difficult to accept that FDR could knowingly sacrifice and willingly execute 3000 American soldiers to gain entrance into World War II. General Marshall's account of the situation at Pearl Harbor is the best and simplest explanation I read so far. With regards to FDR, Mr. Vidal sounds like a Republican.

He continues to wander and somehow ends up on the atomic bomb and Harry Truman. In this case much of what he claims seems to be supported by historians and researchers - but the facts are never stated as salaciously as Mr. Vidal's interpretation. It is difficult to demonize old "give 'em hell" Harry. Harry may have been wrong but one can hardly doubt that when wrong he was not sincerely and wholeheartedly wrong. I find it difficult to accept that Harry was deceptively or clandestinely or conspiratorially wrong.

There are other parts of his book that have not gotten as much attention. They may be true but because of Mr. Vidal very opinionated nature, I would imagine that most readers discount his validity.

Gore Vidal is a novelist but I have only read his political essays and his political commentary. I enjoy reading Mr. Vidal on politics because he is always outspoken. Every time I read one of his books, I discount 50% of what he has to say as left wing propaganda but invariably one also finds sufficient food for thought.

Believe it or not Mr. Vidal thinks that nearly everyone in the USA pays too much in taxes. He points out that over 50% of all federal spending goes to the Pentagon and Military spending in general. He is not happy with the 1% of Americans who own almost everything in America - and a good deal of the rest of the world.

The subtitle of this book is "Blood for oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta." On this particular issue he has a very good case. He should have stuck with his Bush criticisms. Once he climbed into his personal fantasies about American history, I would guess that he lost most of his serious audience.

Books written by Richard Noble - The Hobo Philosopher:
"Hobo-ing America: A Workingman's Tour of the U.S.A.."
"A Summer with Charlie"
"A Little Something: Poetry and Prose"
"Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother"
"The Eastpointer" Selections from award winning column.
"Noble Notes on Famous Folks"
"America on Strike" A Survey of Labor Strikes in America

2-0 out of 5 stars eh...
Boilerplate rhetoric about how the US is the global policeman and no longer a republic but an empire.We've heard it all before...yawn...

And I even agree!

5-0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking......
I thought this latest collection of Mr. Vidal's work was timely and well worth the read. I applaud his bluntness and 'tell it like it is' attitude concerning the U.S. and it's push for world domination. This book will be interesting to anyone who is searching for an alternative view as to what is going on in our crazy, sordid post 9/11 world. Highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars The United Oil Oligarchy of Amnesia and Entropy
...with free enterprise for the poor and socialism for the rich.

The label "conspiracy theorist" holds a powerful stigma.For the most part, the conspiracy theorists themselves are to blame for that.For the most part the people I've run across who propagate and perpetuate these wild schemes are not the most critical thinkers out there.The evidence of this is the way conspiracies run in packs.Once they're talking about secret societies, secret connections and plots, more and more unfold, running off in tangents.It might start with the Kennedy assassination but soon area 51 and Roswell are evoked, the moon landing is a hoax, the Loch Ness monster and the inner Earth people.Not to mention the Catholics, the Masons, and the Jewish-communists.

But that shouldn't dissuade us from investigating anything.The fact that conspiracy theorists are nuts doesn't mean conspiracies never happen.People who believe everything that's slightly exciting to believe are no less critical thinkers than those who dismiss outright anything that threatens the veneer of civility and order.

In reality, a conspiracy doesn't have to be an intricate web of deception, some brilliant design everyone but you is in on.A conspiracy can be lots of powerful people acting in a similar way, through sneaky means and propaganda, for the sake of strengthening and securing their own power.Hillary Clinton was lambasted for speaking of a vast right-wing conspiracy, but as the story unfolds, we see a small handful of very powerful, rich people using their influence to try and drag down a President and his administration by any means necessary.She was right.

This book is a collection of essays unified by the assertion Gore Vidal is making that American is an empire, and that American military action and behavior, since before world war 2, has been an imperial attempt to control as much of the world as possible.If one looks at the whole of human history, none of this should come as a surprise.But in the modern debate, where Neo-con imperialism is compared to Nazism, Mr. Vidal is telling us that a better analogy would be the ancient Roman Empire, and that this has been going on a whole lot longer than since the neo-cons have been in power.The primary difference today is near-transparency of the current administrations goals, and the deplorable depths of depravity to which they'll sink to accomplish it.The unprovoked, unilateral invasion of Iraq was just one of hundreds of unprovoked, unilateral military actions the American empire has engaged in post-WW2.But in the past, America had the self-awareness, pride and patience to do things in a deceptive manner, exercising domination economically (the Marshall plan), or through low-key military presences (like NATO in Western Europe) and by meddling around the world with an alphabet soup of secret police (CIA, FBI, DEA, DIA...).So, there's nothing new going on in the Bush-Cheney Junta.It is a matter of degrees, but previous presidents and previous administrations don't get off the hook unscathed.

And the media, owned by powerful, rich, well-connected corporations, don't get off unscathed.Vidal discusses the role of the media, paid off to keep two major characteristics of the America off the radar off the people, the first being the existence- not to mention the pervasiveness- of a class system, and the second being the nature of the U.S. Empire.Outside of the United States, these are not secrets.When the twin towers fell, Americans turned to each other and asked in genuine bewilderment how anyone could hate us.When the answer was supplied for us, "they hate us because they hate freedom," enough people could actually get themselves to believe this to accomplish there-election of the worst, most venal bunch of ganefs in American history.American people could accept the premise that people around the world want to attack us with suicidal acts simply because they envy our goodness.That's not just us being stupid, that's us being uneducated and misinformed.(And distracted!Was that really a partial breast seen during a football half-time show?Heaven forfend!Let's have congressional hearings about it.)

Drawbacks?Because this is a collection of essays written for different sources at different times, you get a lot of redundancy if you read this book cover to cover.Also, while I'm not a knee-jerk pro-Israel kind of guy (I have plenty of criticism for the way Israel has acted and I see a lot more complexity in the situation than people on either side ever acknowledge), I do cringe a little bit when Mr. Vidal gets on the subject of Israel's role in today's geopolitical scene.He hints at Israel's mistakes, but then, in his wonderfully droll, mischievous style, declares that one can't criticize Israel without being accused of anti-Semitism, complete with a sarcastic tone that says `gosh, what could be worse than being an anti-Semite?'I know he's making an important point but, as someone who grew up being taught that they will eventually get around to blaming everything on the Jews again, I can't help but feel a touch queasy.

All that being said, this is an important book, it offers an alternate take on the modern situation that needs to be heard.And Gore Vidal, as opposed to someone like Noam Chomsky, reports in his inimitable sassy style, which turns a painful topic into pleasurable reading.That takes some talent.Thumbs up.
... Read more

9. Gore Vidal: Snapshots in History's Glare
by Gore Vidal
Hardcover: 256 Pages (2009-10-01)
list price: US$40.00 -- used & new: US$18.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0810950499
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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This book is Gore Vidal's visual memoir of his remarkable and famously well-lived life. In this collection of photographs, letters, manuscripts, and other selections from Vidal's vast personal archives, readers are now escorted by one of America's wittiest insiders into the Kennedys' Camelot, as well as onto the set of Ben Hur, and into the private lives of Eleanor Roosevelt, Paul Newman, and Tennessee Williams, to name just a few.
Born into public life, here Vidal looks back on his days as an Army officer in WWII, his rise as a groundbreaking and controversial novelist, his years in Hollywood, his forays into the political arena, and his notoriously public triumphs and feuds. Written with Vidal's legendary wit and literary elegance, this book reveals not only the personal reflections of one of the last of the great generation of American writers, but also a captivating social history of the 20th century told by one of our great raconteurs.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars Please uncle Gore, one more picture and one more story!
This book comes as close as possible to sitting on Gore Vidal's lap (well, maybe next to him) to listen to his eloquent stories as he randomly (well, maybe not that randomly) picks a picture from his collection and a striking memory that goes with it. Wow. Pour another drink and see his life and that of many others go by in snapshots and snapmonologues. A must have for Vidal fans.

5-0 out of 5 stars Pictures to Illuminate the Words
Gore Vidal's life included contact with some of the most important and well-known people of the 20th Century. This book is an excellent photographic addition to his autobiographies Palimpsest, and Point to Point Navigation. If you are a Vidal fan, get this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Gore Vidal - Snapshots in History's Glare (Abrams)
When you mention Gore Vidal, what comes to mind? A novelist? Essayist? Playwright? A Politician? Commentator? Screenwriter? A Raconteur? A Socialite...?

Of course, the right answer is `all of the above.' In fact, it might be argued that Gore Vidal is America's ultimate renaissance man. Certainly, his latest book, `Snapshots in History's Glare' does nothing to dispel this notion.

From his early days growing up in a political family in Virginia, his days at boys school, his associations with writers like Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams, the political years with Harry Truman, Eleanor Roosevelt, as a confidante of the Kennedys as well as his own political ambitions, to the intoxicating highlife of the movie and showbiz worlds, Vidal has enjoyed a life like few others.

This book, which could alternately be described as a scrapbook, an annotated photo album or perhaps even a visual memoir, is an amazing collection of every phase of Vidal's life from Virginia to New York, to Hollywood (twice) to his many years along the Amalfi coast. Anchored by photographs and mementos saved by his long time companion, Howard Russell Auster (whose death was the inspiration for this book), Vidal has assembled a completist's collection of everything from early handwritten notes from political figures, to Hollywood letters, to an impressive collection of photographs of the rich and famous and even pictures of most of his movie posters and his many, many book covers. (Including when as the bete noire of the New York Times book editor, he was forced to adopt the nome-de-plume, Edgar Box!)

Vidal was certainly a bon-vivant of his generation, entertaining at times various celebrities from Mick Jagger to Andy Warhol, Norman Mailer to David Hockney, to decades long relationships with Johnny Carson, Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward and others. Vidal's commentary offers his clever and sometimes acerbic remembrances of events past, such as how he was denied credit for the film epic `Ben-Hur' though later was successful in suing MGM to obtain personal vindication. (One must observe, as well, the caustic words he saved for his famed debate partner, the late William F. Buckley.)

In the book, Vidal periodically whines that the glory days are now behind us. Given the depth of the rarified lifestyle he enjoyed over the last 60 years, he may very well be right.

5-0 out of 5 stars FascinatingBook
This book,essentially a photo autobiography accompanied by some text,gives the reader a good view of the life of
this interesting man.This is a must for those of us who have admired Mr. Vidal for many years;for those of us
who admire and perhaps agree with Mr. Vidal's political viewpoints on many matters,and people,over the many
years of his long,and frequently public life.
I first heard Mr. Vidal speak in June,1960,while he was a young man running for congress in upstate NY. I remember
him then,as now,as a man with a razor-sharp mind,and insight,into many matters,and people.
Mr. Vidal has led such a full life,and befriended so many famous personalities over his long life,that to have such a collection of photos attesting to this is most interesting.
Anyone with even a passing interest in Gore Vidal should buy this book. To the uninitiated,if you read it,you may
find yourself reading more of his work,and viewing him speaking on the internet.

1-0 out of 5 stars gore vidal
Snapshots really.... thats all there is which can only be read with a magnifying glass.The book has no substance what so ever..The only revelation in the entire book is to confirm that indeed Paul Newman was bi-sexual.If you doubt this, get your magnifying glass and reads the letters from Newman to Gore.
... Read more

10. Point to Point Navigation: A Memoir (Vintage)
by Gore Vidal
Paperback: 288 Pages (2007-10-09)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$5.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0307275019
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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In a witty and elegant autobiography that takes up where his bestelling Palimpsest left off, the celebrated novelist, essayist, critic, and controversialist Gore Vidal reflects on his remarkable life.

Writing from his desks in Ravello and the Hollywood Hills, Vidal travels in memory through the arenas of literature, television, film, theatre, politics, and international society where he has cut a wide swath, recounting achievements and defeats, friends and enemies made (and sometimes lost). From encounters with, amongst others, Jack and Jacqueline Kennedy, Tennessee Williams, Eleanor Roosevelt, Orson Welles, Johnny Carson, Francis Ford Coppola to the mournful passing of his longtime partner, Howard Auster, Vidal always steers his narrative with grace and flair. Entertaining, provocative, and often moving, Point to Point Navigation wonderfully captures the life of one of twentieth-century America’s most important writers. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (32)

5-0 out of 5 stars Glimpses into an Eventful Life
I found "Point-To-Point Navigation" compelling from beginning to end. Whether he is regaling us with fascinating tales of the famous, or granting us glimpses into life at his beloved Swallow's Nest, which clings to a cliff far above the Tyrrhenian sea at Ravello, Gore Vidal writes with effortless prose and ironic wit, as he conducts us on an intimate voyage point-to-point through the last forty years of his life. Often poignant, Mr. Vidal's kaleidoscopic episodes are always interesting.

3-0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but too catty for my tastes
What I enjoy most from reading autobiographies is learning how events shaped the character of the author.Other than the very interesting and touching passage surrounding the death of his lover, however, most of this book consists of amusing anecdotes, gossip, and catty tales, i.e. "Look what she did!".At no point are we treated with any discussion about how events developed his life.And never, of course, does he admit to making any mistakes.The stories he recounts are often interesting and amusing.The book is an easy read.Nevertheless, with all of his catty tales and lack of self-introspection, the author came off looking arrogant in the end.I had fun reading this, but was ultimately disappointed.

5-0 out of 5 stars Flowing Memories
Vidal, Gore. "Point to Point Navigation: A Memoir", Vintage, 2007.

Flowing Memories

Amos Lassen

After having read Gore Vidal's "Palimpsest" I was hungry for more and could not wait to read "Point to Point Navigation", the second volume of his memoirs. While not as skillfully written as the first volume, this is a look at larger than life Vidal in the way only he could give it to us. Here is a look backward at his eighty plus years of life replete with the rich and the famous and beautiful prose. The book is a memory play of a glorious life that is witty and intelligent.
We travel with Vidal into international society and into the fields of literature, television, movies and politics as he shares his life with us. Written in the stream of consciousness style, the book is full of thoughts and observations, reminisces and memories in no special order and after finishing it I felt as I had just left a table where Vidal and I had shared a cup of coffee as I listened to him talk about his life.
There is no questioning Vidal's place in history--he is a fine biographer, a playwright, a screenwriter and an essayist. He comments on politics and views society through his own special lens and his views of history are uniquely "Vidalesque".We gain access to both his public and private life and we read of those people who have been in the headlines for what seems like forever--Tennessee Williams, Eleanor Roosevelt, Federico Fellini, Francis Ford Coppola, Johnny Carson, Rudolph Nureyev, Amelia Earhart and many, many others. He writes of his family, of his mother and father and the Kennedys.
There is the overriding theme of death here as so many of those that he knew left us and it is here that he relies on his memory to create portraits for us. The loss of his partner of 53 years, Howard Auster, looms over the work as he writes about him in the "past present" tense and he mourns those celebrations they were to have shared together but will never be realized. We read his ideas on death and grief. He shares his life completely with us and I laughed and I cried as I read.
Vidal realizes that his memory is failing and he questions whether he has already told us some of the stories here but it makes no difference because he tells us anyway. He looks deeply into American society and somehow he knows what we want to know and that is what he relates to us. He writes with candor and kindness and with a mastery of the English language. He wrote this book when he felt like telling stories or so it seems and the book is like fine wine that ages beautifully and tastes better all the time.

4-0 out of 5 stars Maybe
Ok, so I read palimsest nearly..yes it could be a decade ago as a student. I bought Point when I wa scasually shopping last year. Vidal amazes in his clarity and liberal views. A true independent in all spheres!

4-0 out of 5 stars Point to Point Navigation
A poignant, if somewhat rambling, stroll through the latter half of Gore Vidal's extrodinary life. ... Read more

11. The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2000
by Gore Vidal
Paperback: 480 Pages (2002-06-11)
list price: US$17.95 -- used & new: US$5.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 037572639X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Like his National Book Award—winning United States, Gore Vidal’s scintillating ninth collection, The Last Empire, affirms his reputation as our most provocative critic and observer of the modern American scene. In the essays collected here, Vidal brings his keen intellect, experience, and razor-edged wit to bear on an astonishing range of subjects. From his celebrated profiles of Clare Boothe Luce and Charles Lindbergh and his controversial essay about the Bill of Rights–which sparked an extended correspondence with convicted Oklahoma City Bomber Timothy McVeigh–to his provocative analyses of literary icons such as John Updike and Mark Twain and his trenchant observations about terrorism, civil liberties, the CIA, Al Gore, Tony Blair, and the Clintons, Vidal weaves a rich tapestry of personal anecdote, critical insight, and historical detail. Written between the first presidential campaign of Bill Clinton and the electoral crisis of 2000, The Last Empire is a sweeping coda to the last century’s conflicted vision of the American dream. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (21)

5-0 out of 5 stars the last empire
Vidal's political essays should be required reading
in high school. This book helps us to understand the
circularity of historical events and how the
past influences our current policies. He is one of
America's best essayists who doesn't get the recognition
he truly deserves

5-0 out of 5 stars Just a Plug
Only to the extent that I am familiar with Gore Vidal, I suggest that his writings are worthy of a large audience. He brings forth an intelligence to be respected. And feelings that bespeak of nothing but human. Do you reject his feelings? But they are not yours. No one asks that they should be. But it is easy to reject the person per se. Thinking is difficult. Who said it would be easy? Who even mentioned that thinking might be something one should attend to. Here you will find an individual who has Attended.

5-0 out of 5 stars A daily abuse of civil liberties
In these 'truly' exceptional essays, Gore Vidal poses the only 'truly' ultimate question: 'What happened to all of us for most of our lives?' His answers are also 'truly' devastating.

He exposes an empire (the US) which spends half of its national budget to impose her vision of the world on the rest: 'For 50 years we have supported too many tyrants, overthrown too many democratic governments, wasted too much of our own money in other people's civil wars to pretend we're just helping out all those poor little folks all around the world who love freedom and democracy.'

What is this vision in Vidal's words?
No public healthcare (Everybody `has the right to die unhelped'),
Governing by laws ... and lawyers,
Media obsessed with sex (not with `who collects what money from whom for what'),
Leaders as powerless figureheads,
A fiercely disinformed population,
Massive investments in war matters (`the same money spent on the country's infrastructure - our rotted home base -would have saved us debt, grief, blood') turning the Union into a socialist country for the rich and free enterprise for the poor (`public money doesn't go to the people, but to big business')
Civil liberties abused on a daily basis
A `moral' majority explaining the `moral' chaos by the free distribution of condoms ...

By the way, Gore Vidal exposes also the myths about Pearl Harbor, the dropping of the A-bombs on Japan, the 1948 Berlin crisis and some disturbing facts about the Oklahoma bombing.
His portrait of Frank Sinatra is astonishing, of Harry Truman dark (the National Security Act), of Clare Boothe Luce candid (`Time' is fiction) and of JFK devastating.

Gore Vidal is one of the greatest and most astute political commentators in US history. His books are (and will be) a must read for all present and future US historians, professional or amateur. Hopefully, those will show at least a small part of his courage.

N.B. I do not agree that `ultimately' the JFK and dalla Chiesa murders were Mafia hits.

5-0 out of 5 stars Uneven but splendid
Thsi is not Vidal's best book, though it contains some brilliant essays. However, Vidal at his worst is better than most writers at their best, and this entire collection is the work of a master in late career. His literary criticism is delicious, and the historical knowledge he brings to his work offers sweeping insight into the workings of politics and public policy. If he is correct in his analysis, and I find no basis for disagreement, we are witnessing the last days of the American empire. Whether the experiment failed or will give birth to something better is the question we face individually and as a nation. Vidal's contribution to the great conversation is immense.

5-0 out of 5 stars He does it again
I'm delighted with my recent purchase, "The Last Empire" By Gore Vidal.Its combination of literary, political and pop culture essays was replete with fresh information and insights, and I was pleased with its lack of political correctness.Although a few of the essays run on a little too long, the prose sparkles.The man is a genius.I wish, as Gore certainly does, that he were 20 years younger so he could keep up the good work. ... Read more

12. Selected Essays of Gore Vidal (Vintage International)
by Gore Vidal
Paperback: 480 Pages (2009-06-16)
list price: US$17.00 -- used & new: US$10.21
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0307388689
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Gore Vidal—novelist, playwright, critic, screenwriter, memoirist, indefatigable political commentator, and controversialist—is America's premier man of letters. No other living writer brings more sparkling wit, vast learning, indelible personality, and provocative mirth to the job of writing an essay.

This long-needed volume comprises some twenty-four of his best-loved pieces of criticism, political commentary, memoir, portraiture, and, occasionally, unfettered score settling. It will stand as one of the most enjoyable and durable works from the hand and mind of this vastly accomplished and entertaining immortal of American literature. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Vintage Vidal
Vidal is an American treasure and a patriot in the best sense of the word.

4-0 out of 5 stars Vidal over the years
As may be expected somewhat uneven essays by Gore spanning decades . He is always entertaining and frequently quite erudite but he is much too harsh on John Updike and the Kennedys. Here's hoping he lives on for many more years and books.

2-0 out of 5 stars Very Puzzling, Though New Readers May Enjoy
It all comes down to what you want and what you have read.

For those who are exploring the vast depth of essays penned by Gore Vidal, this volume - edited by Jay Parini - is a nice primer.

But 21 of the 24 selections appeared in the 1993 Random House collection, United States: Essays 1952-1992, with a pair of recent political essays - Black Tuesday (2001) and State of the Union, 2004 (2004) - easily found in other settings.

Ultimately, this is a very puzzling release and what appears to be a slick means to reissue what Parini feels is the best material from a massive volume - 114 pieces - published 15 years ago.

... Read more

13. Washington, D.C: A Novel (Narratives of Empire).
by Gore Vidal
Paperback: 432 Pages (2000-08-01)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$6.94
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375708774
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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With a New Introduction

Washington, D.C., is the final installment in Gore Vidal's Narratives of Empire,his acclaimed six-volume series of historical novels about the American past. It offers an illuminating portrait of our republic from the time of the New Deal to the McCar-thy era.

Widely regarded as Vidal's ultimate comment on how the American political system degrades those who participate in it, Washington, D.C. is a stunning tale of corruption and diseased ambitions. It traces the fortunes of James Burden Day, a powerful conservative senator who is eyeing the presidency; Clay Overbury, a pragmatic young congressional aide with political aspirations of his own; and Blaise Sanford, a ruthless newspaper tycoon who understands the importance of money and image in modern politics. With characteristic wit and insight, Vidal chronicles life in the nation's capital at a time when these men and others transformed America into "possibly the last empire on earth."

"Washington, D.C. may well be the finest of contemporary novels about the capital," said The New Yorker, and the Times Literary Supplement deemed it "a prodigiously skilled and clever performance."

From the Hardcover edition. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (11)

4-0 out of 5 stars An American tragedy
I've long been a great admirer of Gore Vidal's political and historical essays.But except for his novels Julian (which I read in my youth and greatly liked), Live from Golgotha (which I loathed and could never get through), and Lincoln (which I thought was only so-so), I haven't explored his fiction.Given that this is a presidential election year, I thought it wouldn't be a bad idea to dip into Washington, DC, the penultimate volume in Vidal's American Chronicle series.

The novel is a very good tale indeed--indeed, a kind of modern American tragedy.The two protagonists, Senator Burden Day (aptly named) and his assistant and eventual nemesis Clay Overbury, represent two styles of politics.Day, a son of the old school, still thinks that honor and integrity should be important in politics (although he's by no means a naive idealist).Overbury belongs to the political generation that came of age during WWII:media-savvy, focused almost exclusively on appearance and relatively unburdened with the sort of conscience that the older generation carries around with it, and which ultimately destroys Day.

It might be argued that Vidal sentimentalizes Burden Day's generation--although he goes out of his way, it seems to me, to create a complex story rather than one which is morally simplistic.Day, for example, certainly has his human weaknesses and ambitions.But there's definitely a line that Day refuses to cross--a line that the novel's rising generation of "new" politicians don't even recognize--and his own guilt when he wavers at that line is the beginning of his decline. It does seem to me that Day's story captures the tragedy of American politics:the gradual fall of a decent man whose ambitions, even if only on one occasion, get the better of him.

A poignant reminder of the razor's edge of political ambition in this election year.

4-0 out of 5 stars DC Never Changes
This book kept my interest from start to finish.It is written on an adult level, reminiscent of an era when DC was still mysterious.

I'm a resident of DC, and this book reminds me of the Jimmy Stewart movie "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" not for the story line, but because even though this story was set decades ago, written decades ago, it could have been written today.DC absolutely never changes.

Read this book for a higher-level "West Wing" from the congressional side.Drugs, sex, affairs, power -- its all in there.

I recommend this book on the inside of DC -- and it is enjoyable for all -- Democrats and Republicans aren't mentioned, so it doesn't matter your party!


5-0 out of 5 stars My favorite of the American Chronicle
Apparently others disagree, but I thought this was the best novel in Vidal's American Chronicle series.It's also the best one to start with if you haven't read any others in the series, although it's near the end chronologically.I feel that it provides a good background for the other books, making it easier to understand and get into them.
Washington, DC will also stand alone as a great political novel.I'm not generally a fan of historical fiction, but I love Vidal, and this book is one of his best.

5-0 out of 5 stars History, Politics, and Literature at Their Finest
Gore Vidal is one of America's most erudite and imaginative historical and political thinkers.He also happens to be one the most intelligent, witty, and capable literary craftsmen this country has ever produced.

In Washington, D. C., Vidal has created a novel that is simultaneously informative and entertaining.The story takes place between the 1930s (FDR era) and WWII.For anyone interested in that historical period, this book will be a fascinating read.The amazing thing is, however, that even if you're not interested in that historical period, you'll enjoy the satirical nuances of the book.Also, Vidal draws his characters with such authenticity that you'll get lost in the interpersonal relationships and forget the historical backdrop.

A vague outline of the novel is as follows:Senator Day twarts FDR's attempt to pack the Supreme Court; he then gets involved in an attempt to be elected president; while all this is happening his daughter's ex-fiance Clay Overbury (who is also Senator Day's aide) marries another woman whose father is extremely rich; and the political intrigue and madness ensue.

This, and all of Vidal's American Chronicle series, should be required reading for every American citizen.

2-0 out of 5 stars Disjointed
The books that comprise the "Narratives of Empire" series were not written in order, and if you're reading them in order the cracks show up here in the sixth and final volume. In each volume, Vidal includes a preface telling you the story of the book you're about to read, and proudly reminding you that the entire series is the chronicle of a single family, direct in descent from Aaron Burr to himself. Yet when we get to "Washington DC" we learn that it was Blaise Sanford who purchased the Washington Tribune all those years ago and launched his publishing career, not his half-sister Caroline. In fact, Caroline Sanford has utterly ceased to exist, despite having been our main character during the previous two novels, during which she, yes, purchased the Washington Tribune and launched HER publishing career, only allowing Blaise to buy a 48% share years later when he was desperate. What's more, it was Caroline's mother who was descended from Burr, not Blaise's, as readers of volume three know perfectly well, which means that there are no more descendants of Burr left by volume six. Hmph. ... Read more

14. Burr: A Novel
by Gore Vidal
Paperback: 448 Pages (2000-02-15)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$9.15
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375708731
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Gore Vidal's Narratives of Empire series spans the history of the United States from the Revolution to the post-World War II years. With their broad canvas and large cast of fictional and historical characters, the novels in this series present a panorama of the American political and imperial experience as interpreted by one of its most worldly, knowing, and ironic observers.

Burr is a portrait of perhaps the most complex and misunderstood of the Founding Fathers. In 1804, while serving as vice president, Aaron Burr fought a duel with his political nemesis, Alexander Hamilton, and killed him. In 1807, he was arrested, tried, and acquitted of treason. In 1833, Burr is newly married, an aging statesman considered a monster by many. Burr retains much of his political influence if not the respect of all. And he is determined to tell his own story.As his amanuensis, he chooses Charles Schermerhorn Schuyler, a young New York City journalist, and together they explore both Burr's past and the continuing political intrigues of the still young United States. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (68)

4-0 out of 5 stars History interpreted
The passage of time edits history. The roughness and corners of detail wear away under the constant erosion of recall and interpretation. Eventually, unless events or people are sufficiently insignificant so they can be merely forgotten, the process rounds off what remains to form mere icons, summaries that become anodyne cartoons of once complex events and motives.

I can recall the celebrations that surrounded the bi-centennial of the American Revolution. At the time, I thought I knew something about the history. Names such as Washington, Jefferson and Adams became commonplace for a while. A couple of years before, Gore Vidal had published his novel Burr, which I had not read.Having just finished it, nearly forty years after it appeared, I now know much more. In the novel Gore Vidal presents a history of the War Of Independence and its aftermath through the eyes of a contemporary, Aaron Burr, who was Vice President to Thomas Jefferson.

Burr's form is a brilliant invention. The treatment enhances the content, allowing Gore Vidal to lay several perspectives before the reader. Aaron Burr lived to a ripe old age. We meet him first in the 1830s approaching his final years. He is still very much an active participant in life, however. He still has an eye for the ladies, two very big eyes for money or opportunity, and a very much alive and kicking penchant for political dabbling. His proclivities have left a world-wide trail of successes and failures, personal, political and familial.

A gentleman called Schuyler, who considers himself Dutch first, American second, is commissioned to write the old man's memoirs, after a fashion. He researches, contacts and interviews. There is a motive. The writer's commission is barbed. What Burr might reveal can be used to lever contemporary political advantage. Schuyler's task is to prise out the useful from the detail the old man might reveal. And it is from this quest that the book's eventual surprise materialises. It is, however, quite a long wait.

Schuyler meets Burr several times and, on each occasion, the old man develops a section of his memoir. The writer records the words and, here and there, interprets. Burr has lived a long and eventful life. His rise to fame was accelerated by participation in the War Of Independence. He became a battlefield commander and earned a reputation for success, not difficult when apparently everyone else involved, in Burr's estimation at least, lacked commitment, competence or both. This included George Washington, who is revealed as a selfish, bungling incompetent.

Burr was also, both by choice and inevitable proximity, a confidante and colleague of Thomas Jefferson, who saw Burr as a competitor. Jefferson's ideals are portrayed as naiveté and his judgment as eccentric. And Burr was always a threat to Jefferson's personal interest and ambition, and thus had to be controlled, manipulated, excluded, undermined. As ever, for the good of the country, of course...

But Burr was a survivor. A tempestuous private life riddled with success, failure, allegation and counter-claim, alongside a roller-coaster political career took the central character close to both power and ruin, ecstasy and despair. It also took him close to death several times.

Burr's enduring claim to fame is the duel he fought against a rival, Alexander Hamilton. Their long-standing rivalry is chartered through the book. Hamilton's death in the duel surfaces many times in Burr's narrative before the event itself is presented and, of course, there is more than meets the eye.

Gore Vidal states that he chooses to write historical fiction rather than history to reveal the frailties and shortcomings of icons such as Washington and Jefferson. He cites fiction's ability to ascribe opinion, its opportunity to create illustrative drama via dialogue in meetings that only might have happened. And at this level, Burr is a remarkable success. Events and people that have become statuesque icons are questioned, reassessed and often revealed as quite different from what we have learned to assume. Burr is also a book of forensic detail and, when that detail is reaffixed to the historical figures we thought we already knew, it is surprising to see them anew, revealed as merely human. It is not a book for the uncommitted reader who might be only partially interested in its subject. This, eventually, is its strength.

5-0 out of 5 stars Standing American history on its head
Gore Vidal has written an enjoyable and superior novel about one of American history's least admired subjects, if not villains.Along with Benedict Arnold and Richard Nixon,Aaron Burr is rarely placed in the Pantheon of great Americans.Burr was vice president under Thomas Jefferson, whom Burr nearly defeated for the highest office of the land.Mr. Vidal alleges that Aaron Burr would have been perhaps a far better president than Mr. Jefferson.Vidal's Aaron Burr is portrayed as an honest and principled gentleman, whereas Jefferson, one of America's most admired founding fathers, comes across as two-faced and hypocritcal.Thomas Jefferson, according to Gore Vidal, was also a racist, slaveholder when he was not being ruthless and vindictive.Mr. Jefferson also, allegedly, supported the right of states to nullify federal laws with which they disagreed and even to secede from the union.

Alexander Hamilton, whom Aaron shot and killed in a gun duel, is portrayed as a highly overrated, womanizing scamp.Burr had often rued that many monuments and statues were erected in Alexander Hamilton's honor, while none were ever likely to be built in Mr. Burr's memory.According to Mr. Vidal, and I am sure history has verified this, Mr. Hamilton did shoot at Mr. Burr first and missed his target.Also, Mr. Burr allegedly gave Mr. Hamilton the opportunity to withdraw from the duel, which offer Mr. Hamilton turned down.

As for the so-called treasonous acts that Aaron Burr allegedly supported, such as making war against the United States of America and a principal in a scheme to illegally annex Mexico, Burr's prosecutors could not even prove that he was present at a meeting to commit his treasonous plans.

While much of Gore Vidal's book may be considered fiction rather than truly biographical, much of it is based on recorded historial facts._Burr_ is a very educational regarding the early days of the republic and its politics, Constitutional law, and, most of all, a really fun read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Another entertaining and informative novel from Vidal
Aaron Burr, for those with even a modest knowledge of American History - and I include myself in that category, is usually quickly dismissed in polite conversation was a very negative connotation. After all he was the man that killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel, wanted to become the Emperor of Mexico and was tried for treason. Therefore let's not waste our time on this individual since he was, well, like the loud drunken uncle at a family reunion, someone to be barely acknowledged but avoided whenever possible.

Burr by Gore Vidal presents a fuller, more nuance picture of the man. Vidal invents an earnest writer who is paid to interview Burr during the last months of his life. Thought numerous "flashbacks" Burr/Vidal reviews and discussed the numerous events of his quite remarkable military and political life.

Unless the reader was familiar with the true facts of Burr's life it would be reasonable to question how many liberties Vidal took with the truth in order to produce this lively and engrossing novel. If you are going to read this book I would strongly suggest you read about Burr before hand. I looked up his entry in the Wikipedia and they have a very detailed entry as you may expect. It is quite remarkable that to the best I could determine, Vidal took no liberties with the historical facts. The author states as much in an afterward at the end of the book.

Certainly not the last word on Burr but enough startling facts to keep the pages turning and the night lamp on.

5-0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece, highly recommended
I'd highly recommend this novel to whomever wants to get a slightly different view of the founding fathers and the early 1800s. The portrait of Washington was my favorite. Jefferson's description -- through the eyes of Burr -- is of course highly critical. I appreciated this view, because it raised questions that I had not contemplated before. Jackson -- also as seen by Burr -- is probably praised a bit too much, but this is also understandable because of the relation he had with Burr. I also enjoyed the portrait of Hamilton very much. This is a very well balanced character in the novel. The novel has its fictions, as it's the case of the co-narrator Charlie who, along with an elder Burr, tale the story. Nevertheless, facts are accurate.

It is my personal opinion that Gore Vidal is one of the most important American writers of the past century. I believe that the trilogy is a must for those who want to learn more from our country's past *and* present. Seeing the past through the eye's of Gore has helped me greatly in understanding the present.

5-0 out of 5 stars lous views
interesting the lies we were told in grade schools sometimes i think they should be called our floundering fathers instead of our founding fathers! ... Read more

15. Inventing a Nation: Washington, Adams, Jefferson (Icons of America)
by Gore Vidal
Paperback: 223 Pages (2004-08-11)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$3.50
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Asin: 0300105924
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
A New York Times bestseller

One of the master stylists of American literature, Gore Vidal now provides us with his uniquely irreverent take on America’s founding fathers, bringing them to life at key moments of decision in the birthing of our nation.

“Pure Vidal. . . . Inventing a Nation is his edgy tribute to the way we were before the fall.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review

“[Vidal offers] details that enliven and . . .reflections on the past that point sharply to today.” —Richard Eder, New York Times

“An engaging [and] . . . unblinking view of our national heroes by one who cherishes them, warts and all.”—Edmund S. Morgan, New York Review of Books

“[Vidal’s] quick wit flickers over the canonical tale of our republic’s founding, turning it into a dark and deliciously nuanced comedy of men, manners, and ideas.”—Amanda Heller, Boston Sunday Globe

“This entertaining and enlightening reappraisal of the Founders is a must for buffs of American civilization and its discontents.”—Booklist

“Gore Vidal . . . still understands American history backwards and forwards as few writers ever have.”—David Kipen, National Public Radio

Gore Vidal, novelist, essayist, and playwright, is one of America’s great men of letters. Among his many books are United States: Essays 1951–1991 (winner of the National Book Award), Burr: A Novel, Lincoln, and the recent Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace.

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Customer Reviews (50)

2-0 out of 5 stars Vidal's invention
This work was my introduction to Vidal and, frankly, I was not impressed.While somewhat well researched, much of it is Vidal's personal opinion and sounds oddly like a more hardcore Republican Party revisionist take on the Constitution and the founding fathers than one might imagine from someone allied with the Democrats.His arrogance on the subject makes it almost laughable.Vidal's writing style is choppy and disjointed in places.The whole work is entirely unsatisfying.

5-0 out of 5 stars Rave review for "Inventing a Nation"
"Inventing a Nation" by Gore Vidal is a concise and clear analysis of the development of the United States of America and how the decisions made in the late 18th century impact government today. Gore Vidal cuts to the chase. He destroys the myth of American Democracy by revealing the constructions of the constitution, the formation of the three branches of government, and the development of the electoral college.

At times, Vidal can be didactic and not everyone will agree with his suppositions.

I checked this book out from the library on CD, then read the library's print addition. Now I'm purchasing a copy for my mother to read and to pass on to others.

I highly recommend this book.

2-0 out of 5 stars Here Today, Tomorrow Forgotten
I was never enthralled by this book.Not a history buff, I was not thrilled to learn of important concepts with little flippant comments to "entertain" , rather than educate with elaboration.He has some flair for the dramatic interactions (whether exaggerated or not) among characters (the three main, Hamilton, Marshall, Franklin, etc); however, they are not developed or enriched with further explanation.I, giving him two stars, grant him the benefit of the doubt that he had to "INVENT" the nation with only 177 pages, but this is far too limited.He emphasizes discord and elements of struggle for one principle and its inventor over another rather than collaboration among fellow patriots.Clearly, it is important to see the contrast of one party and patriot against the other, but it is overemphasized, or just not fully explained to give any nuance.He is strictly secular in the "invention" of the nation, which for me, limits it further.Altogether, if you've started reading it, by all means finish it.If not, skip it.I've heard his other works have more merit, however.

1-0 out of 5 stars Misleading Title
I admit that I have not finished the book yet and I may not.I picked this up from the library expecting a book about the founding of the USA with respect to our first three presidents.While that may be in the book, the book is primarily an anti-Bush diatribe.I am not one to defend President Bush but I can not stand intellectual dishonesty.In the book, Vidal states that invading Canada in response to 9/11 made as much sense as invading Afghanistan.While the issue of invading Iraq is and continues to be a controversial one, there has been very little opposition to our invasion of Afghanistan.Our current President Obama has stated many times that our fight against terror was in Afghanistan and not Iraq.For Vidal to state that Afghanistan had as much to do with 9/11 as Canada comes across to me as intellectually dishonest.His hatred of President Bush has made the book almost completely unreadable in my opinion.

5-0 out of 5 stars delightful and iconoclastic tour of what the founding fathers wrought
Vidal sees most contemporary politicians not as men of ideas concerned with society and ideals, but as demagogues who are conducting the family business. His legacy of historical novels is an absolute delight to those who tired of the official, self-congratulatory version of US history: with few exceptions, our top pols are portrayed as petty men of parochial concern even when endowed with political genius. I have often wondered where the line is between Vidal's own opinion and his novelistic portrayals, which are unfailingly vivid and hilariously subtle.

Though I expected a continuation of his seeming reflexive cynicism, in my reading this book is a surprising delight. In a long unevenly flowing essay, Vidal focuses on the founding fathers with a mixture of respect and denunciation, singling out Franklin, Jefferson, and Hamilton as distinctive Enlightenment geniuses, indeed as the most outstanding of these men of the 18C.

He starts with Franklin, who ominously predicted that corruption would lead to the downfall of the American Republic, a warning that was ignored until recently. Washington comes off as a great executive and uniquely brilliant politician, who shrewdly engineered an image that had great world impact and enshrined his fame for posterity. Jefferson, by far the most enigmatic character in my reading, is an idealist full of very human contradiction (an anti-artistocratic aristocrat, a slave-holding opponent of slavery) and political savvy. Hamilton comes off as the true demagogue, stopping at nothing to gain power and spawning corruption to his own ends while writing much of perhaps the greatest poli-sci classic from the Enlightenment. Adams too is a great and honest man, if wanting as a pol, and the contributions of the lesser characters (Madison, George Mason, and Marshall) are also covered.

If I read it correctly, Vidal sees the nation's founding as an extremely tenuous undertaking that could have gone many ways. He does not like the urban-industrial version with a strong central state that Hamilton essentially established, but prefers the modest version (agrarian with a minimal state and strong individual rights) that the Republican Jefferson championed. The bottom line is that the original intent conservatives are ahistorical and tendentious in their arguments to preserve the US constitution as a sacred document of perfection, with Vidal seeing it rather as a political compromise that was deeply flawed and meant to evolve, which it obviously did.

This is wonderfully written and often funny, but not easy to read. It is best if you know the history of the period and the bios of the major players: that way, it is a brilliant essay with satyrical cameos and bold interpretations that reorder the readers' perceptions and gets them to question their assumptions. I loved every page of it.

Warmly recommended. ... Read more

16. United States
by Gore Vidal
Paperback: 1312 Pages (2001-05-15)
list price: US$27.95 -- used & new: US$48.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0767908066
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
From the age of Eisenhower to the dawning of the Clinton era, Gore Vidal’s United States offers an incomparably rich tapestry of American intellectual and political life in a tumultuous period.It also provides the best, most sustained exposure possible to the most wide-ranging, acute, and original literary intelligence of the postWorld War II years.United States is an essential book in the canon of twentieth-century American literature and an endlessly fascinating work.
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Customer Reviews (20)

5-0 out of 5 stars a treasure chest of gossipy fun
this collection of essays is a gold mine of wit, humor and gossip about the past century's most interesting Americans - writers, politicians, celebrities, they're all here.Vidal never spares the rod, and this collection represents the best years of his essay writing.He's gleefully reveals uncomfortable details and gossip about friends and foes alike.Taken together these essays make a sort of memoir from a writer and public intellectual who moved in the highest Washington political circles AND New York literary circles during the mid-twentieth century.Who knew Tennessee Williams complimented JFK on his ass?Or that Anais Nin never learned how to pronounce the word 'yacht'?Or that Eleanor Roosevelt put flowers in her toilet?

Beyond this, this book represents a lifetime of experiences and impressions from a grand old liberal cultural warrior.He was a VERY early and lifelong supporter of LBGT rights - speaking out against discrimination against homosexuals in the 1960's and 70's!

He kindly remembers those he loved and respected, Tennessee Williams, Eleanor Roosevelt, Edmund Wilson; while boldly and entertainingly skewering those he didn't (Ernest Hemingway, Norman Podhoretz, Theodor Roosevelt).When Vidal tears into a fat, juicy, and stupid target like Barry Goldwater you can feel his bloodlust.He reminds me of Mencken: the rich and inviting prose followed by the hilariously vicious ad hominem.He makes the eagle scream time and again.

5-0 out of 5 stars The essays tell you more about Gore Vidal than his subjects.
I understand better the definition of an elitist after reading these essays. The writing is delightful, and fortunately, easily understood by anyone with at least an eighth grade education.

5-0 out of 5 stars United States by Gore Vidal
I was very satisfied with the service I received and the excellent condition of the book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great reading guaranteed in perpetuity
This book is so vast and so full of wisdom, prescience (read Vidal's 1970s attack on religion and compare its conciseness and brilliance with the just released polemics of Hitchins and Dawkins, and his 1950s biting comments on the culture of celebrity are so far ahead of their time that they're breathtaking), wit and humour that you can pick it up at any time and find what seems to be a new gem within.After 5 years of owning this book, I'm still finding pieces I either haven't read or now read with a different outlook, owing to Vidal's amazing ability to be so pertinent to all ages.
Highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, relevant and necessary
These particular selections of essays by the prolific and most caustic critics of the American Republic, has sat on my bookshelf since the early months of 1999. Included in this overwhelming collection are 114 essays, in some cases, randomly categorized into three chapters - State of Art, State of the Union and State of Being. Vidal is an intensely knowledgeable fellow, and therefore has an opinion on just about everything having to do with art, history, politics, the state of literature and his beloved Republic To attempt to read this entire tome (1271 pages) from start to finish over a few weeks (my original intention) proved to be impossible. Although informative and extremely entertaining, there was just too much to digest, too important to scan through, thus I would mark the essays read with a tick on the contents page, place the book back on the shelf, only to return when the time felt right to take them up again.

Vidal is not only a great historian, he is also one of America's great literary radicals. He was experimenting with the literary form, attempting to apply critical theory to the Novel very early in the piece with such works as Duluth, Mira Breckinridge and the post modern religious satire, Live from Golgotha. These were indeed "radical" departures from the standard fare of American novels coming out at the time. In mainstream circles, however, these novels were not well received, but were critically acclaimed, calling them subversive, iconoclastic, original and extremely funny.

As an essayist, Vidal really has no match in American letters. These essays reveal a master at the top of their form. What is interesting as well as admirable, Vidal was criticising literary theory which had infiltrated academia in the late 60's and early 70's, al la, post structuralism and deconstructionism, but unlike the so-called "experts" in the university's across the western world, (he calls them "Hacks of Academia") Vidal attempted to put these theories to the test in the form of a popular novel, (Duluth) and succeeded. In his essay, "French Letters -Theories of the Modern Novel", Vidal attacks these modern theorists, who state that language and literature as an art form is dead, in elegant prose and biting gusto, revealing their empty (headed) arguments,

"In any case, rather like priests who have forgotten the meaning of the prayer they chant, we shall go on for quite as long time talking of books and writing books, pretending all the while not to notice that the church is empty and the parishioners have gone elsewhere to attend other gods, perhaps with silence or with new words." (1967, p.110)

In "The State of the Union" essays, Vidal expounds upon American politics and his views on the National Security Council, the CIA and America's on-going imperialistic intentions, which interestingly, have not dated in the least. Most of these essays are as relevant as ever despite the passing of over thirty years.

There is no doubt in my mind that reading Vidal is an education, showing us a way through the miasma of received wisdom, relentlessly thrown in our direction. In many respects Vidal is a beacon of light during dark times, a writer that has never pulled any punches when it came to the things he believed in, namely writing, politics and his beloved Republic. This book should be standard issue for anyone interested in literature, politics, art, and American history.

... Read more

17. The Decline and Fall of the American Empire (The Real Story Series)
by Gore Vidal
Paperback: 96 Pages (2002-07-01)
list price: US$8.00 -- used & new: US$18.85
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Asin: 1878825003
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Six essays on the theme of empire and republic, with particular focus on the national security state and the failure of the U.S. economic system./P> ... Read more

Customer Reviews (21)

4-0 out of 5 stars A witty and provactive look at the contradictions in the ruling class
Gore Vidal was a brilliant writer and political analyst. His insights into the ways in which powerful corporations dictate the spectrum of dialog in the United States remain pertinent, as do his many indictments of the failure of the Democrats to live up to their unmerited reputation as the "progressive party." His biting critique of the racism and imperialism inherent in religious fundamentalism still describes much of the American church as it leads the fight against women, Muslims, and homosexuals in the United States. Vidal considered himself a radical and an "anti-'anti-Communist,'" and he was willing to step well outside the boundaries of the mainstream "liberal" consensus on important issues and propose measures such as a people's constitutional convention and the abolition of the CIA. Throughout the essays collected in this short volume, he repeatedly emphasized the militarism that has dominated the political establishment since the end of World War 2 as a critical issue that would eventually unravel the threads holding the American Empire together. Thus far history seems to be confirming his conclusions, as the Empire persists in expending the bulk of its wealth and lives on a series of unwanted military occupations, "regime changes," and corporate welfare programs, while deteriorating conditions at home continue to subject vast segments of the population to abject poverty and the sense of powerlessness fostered by the media and disinterested politicians continues to foster the growth of racism, paranoia, religious fundamentalism, and violence.

5-0 out of 5 stars Quick Read
This book was written in the early 90's yet many of the points he makes in it are still very relevant. It was cool to see some of his projections of the future and compare them to the actual results.

5-0 out of 5 stars Bottom Line:'...a MUST READ for patriotic Americans...'
This is another outstanding book from an insightful and wise author. It should be required reading for all Americans. Recommend also: 'Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace' and 'Imperial America: Reflections on the United States of Amnesia' ...both by Gore Vidal.Also, see the documentary film 'Why We Fight'

5-0 out of 5 stars Pouty, you pouting little Eugene Gore-obsessed prick!
You stupid, imbecilic moron. Other than that you seem, yourself, OBSESSED with Eugene Gore (his birth name), his egotism is legendary, and has often been the subject of HIS OWN jokes! He used to appear on Laugh-In, and introduced HIMSELF as "Gore Vidal, a legend in his own mind!" How's that for self-mocking and laughing at one's self? You ought to try it, you fallaciously-arguing, Abusive-ad-Hominem, intellectual wannabe. Grow up. Argue with the man's viewpoints, as I should do with yours, except you present none, other than your personal prejudices, disguised as tell-all revelations. Child.Also, I guess you know that the essays reprinted here first appear in a hard-cover collection, published in 1992, right? Oh...

5-0 out of 5 stars Another home run for Vidal
This book, or pamphlet I should say, was just as good as "Imperial America" which was written by the same author, Gore Vidal. I especially like Vidal's essays titled "The Day the American Empire ran out of Gas" and "Monotheism and it's Discontents". I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Vidal or who likes some good home controversial but provocative writing. ... Read more

18. Vidal in Venice
by Gore Vidal
Hardcover: 160 Pages (1987-09)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$17.77
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Asin: 0671606913
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars A loving Portrait of Venice
Gore Vidal takes you across more than a thousand years of Venetian history ___from its improbable origins as a safe haven from the marauding hordes of Attila the Hun (5th century AD), through a thousand years of the great Venetian Republic ("The Serene Republic"!)____down to its present day status as a tourist Mecca . Vidal garnishes hisobservations of the city and its people withcharacteristic irreverant humor.The pace of the book is pretty informal with short chapters devoted to the origins of Venice, its geography , the great mercantile Venetian empire which lasted over a millenium ,the flowering of arts : Veronese , Tintoretto, Giorgione , Vivaldi & Palladio were all at some point or another associated with the city . Also interspersed are some observations about Venice which most foreigners may not be familiar with e.g: "There is no sight more beautiful than Venice under a snowfall .Venice is like a once-great beauty who deserves to be seen by candlelight , and the soft light of winter works like a photographer's air-brush on the city's many cracks and wrinkles .Venice is particularly beautiful in a winter mist " etc.Also included is a chapter on the high and mighty who chose to spend some time in Venice : Henry James, Byron, Richard Wagner not to mention that Stravinsky is buried there .This is a good light read and Vidal is an entertaining guide along the way. ... Read more

19. The City and the Pillar: A Novel
by Gore Vidal
Paperback: 240 Pages (2003-12-02)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.35
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Asin: 1400030374
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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A literary cause célèbre when first published more than fifty years ago, Gore Vidal’s now-classic The City and the Pillar stands as a landmark novel of the gay experience.

Jim, a handsome, all-American athlete, has always been shy around girls. But when he and his best friend, Bob, partake in “awful kid stuff,” the experience forms Jim’s ideal of spiritual completion. Defying his parents’ expectations, Jim strikes out on his own, hoping to find Bob and rekindle their amorous friendship. Along the way he struggles with what he feels is his unique bond with Bob and with his persistent attraction to other men. Upon finally encountering Bob years later, the force of his hopes for a life together leads to a devastating climax. The first novel of its kind to appear on the American literary landscape, The City and the Pillar remains a forthright and uncompromising portrayal of sexual relationships between men. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (21)

4-0 out of 5 stars Nothing to be Ashamed of
While certainly not earth-shattering by today's standards of maze-like plot twists and forced eccentricity this novel is a reflection of its era, and an incredibly brave one at that. I found it to be an honest depiction of a floundering youth struggling to come to terms with his homosexuality in a time that offered him no real support to speak of, neither "will nor grace",let alone the wealth of information and services available nowadays accessible to young techno-proficient gays. I found this book a pleasant diversion,sometimes sad, and sometimes laugh out loud humorous.I admire Gore Vidal for his daring in a time when few, if any, writers dared touch this subject, when the whole culture was dripping with disapproval of homosexuality. I don't think this book will ever die. (And one more comment: the cover is strikingly handsome! Wheoever designed it should win an award.)

2-0 out of 5 stars Mid-century self-loathing
This slim novel was undoubtedly trailblazing as a 1948 pulpy attempt at serious fiction examining, from an insider's perspective, the post-War gay oppression in the US. The attempt is awkward-- the writing is simplistic, the characters are thin-to-cardboard, the settings are, by now, hoary.The protagonist is a kind of gay Forrest Gump as he moves through all the relevant sociological locations as they are checked off, including small-town alienation, high-seas departure from home, Hollywood queerdom, WWII servicemen and their off-duty haunts, post-War Greenwich Village, etc.The protagonist is surprisingly untouched by all these events unfolding as he is in the right place to allow the author to make the right observations:he receives no parental rejection, he is not gay-bashed in his misguided overtures, he faces no combat during his enlistment, etc.His dilemmas are as much existential as they are products of his time (can I ever find someone to love rather than use?).

Despite Vidal's erudite later remarks in the press about not viewing sexuality in categories, at this early stage he barters in virtually every gay stereotype such as trade, queens, hags, married closet cases, studio-arranged marriages, and most importantly, not a single longterm gay relationship.The one break with mid-century cliche is the disturbing ending.This ending recasts everything that went before into a sociopathic delusion and leaves a sour taste.Turns out he was less Forrest Gump and more Lovelace.Definitely not up to Vidal's later writing standards.For a more skillful tale of these events, try Mordden's "How Long Has This Been Going On."

4-0 out of 5 stars Prescient Look Back
Vidal was 20 when he wrote this coming-of-age novel, set in a post-war America when the word homosexual conjured netherworlds of perversion and depravity.The feat here isn't the author's frankness or even the skill he uses to convey the character's self-lacerating observations(and what a bunch!).Maybe déjà vu is the word for it: Vidal's hero grows in increments until what emerges is a clear-eyed, honest look at one man coming to terms, a coming out whose hills and valleys remains emotionally indistinguishable from the lives of gay men today.

4-0 out of 5 stars Be careful what you wish for
Reading Gore Vidal can be challenging.Over the years I've read his LINCOLN and also 1876. But I read both books, fortunately,with a fair amount of knowledge of the subject matter. Currently I'm reading BURR and once again I'm going in with a fair amount of knowledge of the subject and enjoying it. Vidal's almost snob appeal that his readers has knowledge of the subject has caused me to shy away from most of his works. Lacking some background the reader ends up confused and wondering if the book isworth the effort.

In reading a biographical note on Vidal I noted this early work THE CITY AND THE PILLAR and its success and controversy in the late 1940's. Noting the short length of the book and availability in the public library I decided to give it a try and I'm very glad that I did. Unlike his later works it is straight forward and easy to read.

In reading the book I got the same sense that I have when watching a movie from the 1940's.It's seeing life during an earlier people of American history.

As one of the critics noted the book is not BROKE BACK MOUNTAIN - but it would be a very interesting project for someone to read the two books and two a contrast and comparison.In my opinion Vidal handles the subject matter with class and sophistication. When you consider the book in the context of the late 1940's its pretty amazing.

Lots of things have been said about THE CITY AND THE PILLAR by other reviewers.But there are a couple of universal themes that comes across in the book that have nothing to do with the fact that the central character is gay. One of the themes is happiness and finding it within yourself.Jim, Shaw, Maria, Sullivan all seem to seek happiness in a relationship before they find happiness within them selves and there in lies the tradegy of their lives.

As to Jim, he's the tragic figure who searches for love in one person and when he finally reunites with Bob, he is rejected.In a sense its the old adadge "be careful what you wish for."In retrospect if Jim had enjoyed the moment with Bob and accepted the fact that it wasa passing interlude and moved on, his life would have been entirely different.

Perhaps the message all these years later is found in the comments of one of the minor characters, Bob's wife, who says to the shock of her contemporariesthat she would rather have a husband who has had several affairs and essentially knew what he wanted out of life, before he settles down. In essence she is saying marry someone who knows what he or she wants out of life - a message that was clearly lost on Jim's mother who spent a life time with a man that she did not love. The irony is that while she is willing to concede that part of Bob's character, she seems unwilling to let him follow his dream and remain at sea.

We don't know what happens to the tragic Jim at the close of the novel?Will he go back to New York and continue in his same life style.Will be become like the aged gay men that the young Jim meets in bars and salons? Did Bob go back to sea, his dream, or settle down to sell insurance like his wife's family wants him to do?These are only questions for speculation.One can only hope that the characters would find happiness.

This would be a great book for a book club.The discussions and the universal theme could create hours of dicussion. For me it was well worth the read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Both historically, and at face value,
I found this to be a fine book. The prose is spare, lean, direct--much like Jim, its protagonist. It does not have the eloquence or depth of Vidal's later work, but it doesn't TRY to--it stays within itself. The official amazon.com reviwer has said not to read it for the sex, and this is of course true. The only sex scene actually described is described metaphorically, but so beautifully as to inspire Thomas Mann to call it (in the word of one translator) "glorious." Vidal himself uses a more modest word in translating Mann's diary entry, though he's very proud that Mann credited this book with inspiring him to take up "Felix Krull" again.

The book is NOTHING like "Brokeback Miountain," either the movie or the short story. Although Jim resists for a time thinking of himself as gay, and spends the years between 17 and 22 on a quest for the lost love with whom he spent most of a weekend having sex near an abandoned slave cabin close to their homes in a small Virginia town, this quest is interrupted by fairly long-term relatioships with other men, whom he meets after 'going to sea," following in the foosteps of that lost love. The Hollywood actor and the sweet but not very successful writer, in Hollywood, New Orleans and further south--and then again in New York City, where he meets both again, provide an interesting and very realistic sounding mileau for a young gay man on the loose in 1946 and shortly thereafter. He never has sex with a woman, and quits trying after one attempt with a woman he's very fond of.

The end of his quest--and I read the revised, less "black" version--made me scream "Oh no!" But after thinking about it a while, I shouldn't have been surprised.
... Read more

20. Kalki
by Gore Vidal
Paperback: 305 Pages (2006-04-24)
-- used & new: US$51.20
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Asin: 2351760174
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (21)

4-0 out of 5 stars It's the end of the world as we know it, and I'm divine
Take an Army veteran whose stint in Vietnam launched him on a career in drug-dealing (James Kelly), recast him as the latest incarnation (Kalki) of an Eastern god (Vishnu), resurrect him after a public death (Christ), have him predict that the Apocalypse will occur in the near future (Hal Lindsey and his ilk), populate the planet with scads of flower-proffering followers (Unification Church), encase your heavy and morbid theme in the style of another author (Vonnegut)--and the result is the overloaded symbolism and wicked satire of Gore Vidal's sixteenth novel. Surprisingly, it mostly works.

Forget the clever yet laughingly implausible plot; instead, the proof is in the punning. The takeaway of "Kalki" is that it's great fun to read simply for Vidal's ridicule of the pre-disco fads of the 1970s and his scattershot scorn for the Cold War nuclear age--a civilization so corrupt and superficial that it proves no match for a global druglord turned street-corner messiah. Vidal derides his usual suspect isms (feminism, militarism, capitalism); he looks askance at the hoi polloi ("Adult bookshops alternated with massage parlors and, worst of all, with Greek restaurants where the smell of frying grease deserved a circle to itself in Dante's hell"); and--above all--he skewers the culture's dependence on media-created idols. Such gullible "mass delirium," Vidal insists, will (literally) kill us as we follow our suzerains and superstars off the proverbial cliff.

When Vidal is laughing at the world, his misanthropy can be endearing. Yet, as mind-blowing as "Kalki" is while its millennial mob of Mayberry myriotheists ushers in the End of the World, the problem with this little venture into dystopian fiction is twofold: the farce occasionally lapses into utter silliness, and the satire borders on hectoring. For all its biblical imagery, Vidal can sometimes resemble an Old Testament scold tsk-tsking the peons from the privileged position of his Olympian perch--if you'll excuse the mixed metaphysics. (The novel's representation of Eastern traditions, by the bye, is as spurious as the divinity of its wayward deity.) One can only wonder if Vidal sees anything about humanity--other than Greco-Roman texts and a few paintings--worth saving. I read "Kalki" both when it first came out and again just this year, and it greatly amused me both times--and I can't truly explain why, since twice now I've closed the book feeling that, in the end, it was as empty of human life as the post-apocalyptic world it portends.

5-0 out of 5 stars An excellent tale from a master story teller...
This is one of Gore Vidal's more interesting tales of morality and what can go wrong when man [or woman] tries to play a God (of any flavor...).

Set in the late nineteen seventies with readily identifiable, if un-named, players in the political spectrum and world events that are without hesitation named and laid bare for the more discerning reader to examine.

Although the story is told through an extended flashback by Teddy Ottinger, the "sin of hindsight" isn't committed to any meaningful degree, even upon second or third readings.

While I adore GV's political tales for their radical honesty, I must say that his novels; while madly political from a certain viewpoint are infinitely more enjoyable - even inducing an occasional "read until you are done" all nighter.

Find this one wherever you can... you will enjoy both the story itself as well as the general message about the dangers of playing [or becoming] a god of any flavor.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great book
This was a really fun book.I have enjoyed most of Vidal's works, but this particular one stands apart.The plot and how it unfolds is just amazing.He hooks you very early on and refuses to let go. The more you read the more Kalki grows on you.Before you know it you are looking for your free lottery ticket as well.

Any book that has a post-apocalyptic ending is great in my book, but the way that Vidal leads this story towards its conclusion and climax is superb.It reminds me of Vonnegut's Galapagos.There is a wit and a charm to this story that is uniquely Vidal.

I want spoil the end (which makes talking about the book at all difficult), but I will say that it has the Vidaltwist.There is no simple straight forward endings for this writer, and the reader will be glad for it.A great book that is wonderful throughout, and has a brilliant finally.

5-0 out of 5 stars Classic!
This is a great book that works on every level.The plot and its wonders are fully explained by other reviewers,and I will not offer more.The purpose of this review is to explain the origin of the story---something not seen in the other reviews.
Merwan Shariar was born of Irani parents in India sometime around 1890.He was taken by the Five Perfect Masters at an early age.Later in his training,the Masters revealed to him that he was indeed "the Ancient One",the Avatar (also known as the White Horse Avatar).He took the name Meher Baba,and was silent for the last 40 years of his life. (also known as the "silent messiah".) He communicated by means of an alphabet board. His acts of humility are very well known.There are now millions of his followers world-wide,and the two main Baba centers are in Meherabad (India),and Myrtle Beach (S.C.).The last 10 years of his life were spent seeking out the Masts (the God-intoxicated) of India.He declared that he was called to human form by the five perfect masters not to establish a cult nor to promote a new faith (his followers retain their previous faith).Whether one believes in his divinity or not,his was a fascinating life.For more info,go to avatarmeherbaba.com.I do not believe in his divinity,but Gore Vidal must have been at least interested.and again,Kalki is a great book no matter what you believe.Because of Vidal's open homosexuality and communist beliefs,it is a shame that he will probably never be nominated for the Nobel Prize.He certainly deserves it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Cycle of creation as told by a bi-sexual aviatrix
Blending his patented wry humor with acute social insight, Vidal creates a crescendo of events hurling humanity towards and impending apocalypse.However, the lasting effect of Kalki isn't the gripping plot narrated by Teddy Ottinger, bi-sexual aviatrix. She is merely a small figure engulfed the madness of events. The impact of Kalki comes from deeper meanings such as the arbitrariness of religious convictions, futility of man's efforts to steward the planet, and the madness of modern society. Although Kalki was originally published in 1983 and set during the pre-Reagan reign of Jimmy Carter, Vidal's concerns regarding over-population, raging epidemics, a compromised atmosphere, and energy shortages of the late seventies that are very much relevant today.

The story is about all of humanity and its fatal flaws. The narrative could be construed as Teddy's confession, relating her guilty role in the chaotic affairs that change the world. However, the point of the story, to me, can best be summarized when Vidal writes that "Good and evil cease to have meaning if there is no human which to weigh such entirely human qualities."I found this to be an interesting statement. The consequences of human actions may not be measured as absolutes (God, Devil, Evil, etc). What is morality in an existential world? For Vidal, the ultimate answer, unfortunately, may be self-destruction.
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