BookSeriesList
Abacus

1876

Gore Vidal
Authors:
Gore Vidal

With the centennial year of the United States as the target of this historical novel, Gore Vidal again mounts a glorious expedition into that grimy and intricate activity called politics. And this is politics as it ought to be: gossip, corruption, money, dinner parties, more corruption, and all the tacky panoply of power. Into the rarefied atmosphere of a world where money has begun to talk very loudly ? usually through the mouths of people called Astor ? step Charles Schuyler and his daughter Emma. Charlie is the unacknowledged bastard son of Aaron Burr; Emma is rather beautiful; and both think it is prudent to return from penury in Europe and secure a fortuitous marriage for Emma. But America is no longer a young republic; it's a fledgling international superpower with its attendant seedy administration, dubious election campaigns, snobbery, 'popped corn', 'speaking tubes' and 'perpendicular railways' (lifts). It's a world that will welcome into its social and political bosom these two attractive exotics with the right names. And it's a world whose every political peccadillo, social slip-up and irresistible intrigue is recorded in this, the journal of Charlie Schuyler.

Abacus

Burr

Gore Vidal
Authors:
Gore Vidal

Gore Vidal's classic novel of Aaron Burr - the man who shot Alexander Hamilton.In 1804, Colonel Aaron Burr, Vice-President of the United States, shot and killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel. Three years later, on the order of President Thomas Jefferson, he was tried for treason: for plotting to dismember the United States.Gore Vidal, romping iconoclastically through American history, debunks, in this historical novel of Burr's life, the common and casually held notion of the man as a scoundrel and an adventurer. Instead he appears as one of the 'host of choice spirits' forced to live among coarse, materialistic, hypocritical people, among them Jefferson and Hamilton. Here, the latter appears as a power-hungry 'parvenu' from the West Indies and the former as a semi-literate slave-owning tyrant. American politics, suggests Vidal, had a penchant for the vulgar. Even then.Veering backwards to the revolution and the early days of the republic, stopping at dinner-parties on the way, and reaching forward to the future, Burr is a novel about treason, both the particular and in general. For what, asks Vidal, really belongs to whom? What properly belongs to the Constitution, to the nation, to the family even, intriguingly, to novelists and historians?

Abacus

Empire

Gore Vidal
Authors:
Gore Vidal

Here is the story of arguably America's finest hour; of the time when the twentieth century dawned, Queen Victoria died, and America, basking deliciously in excess wealth, rather thought it might snap up an empire of its own. Yet while politicians muse over the potential of China or the Philippines - even Russia - empires are being built at home; railway empires; industrial empires; newspaper empires. Into this arena float the delectable Caroline Sanford, putative heiress and definite catch. Caroline is an oddity; she has been raised in France where they teach rich girls to talk and think. American society women, required only to think of themselves as the most interesting beings on earth, are rather alarmed. American men are amused - until Caroline shirks from marriage, sues her brother, buys a newspaper, and becomes that even greater oddity - a powerful woman. Mingling with the movers and shakers of the day - with President McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William Randolf Hearst, Henry James, the Astors, Vanderbilts and Whitneys - Caroline Sanford echoes the glorious passage of the United States as it sweeps into a new century, reaching boldly for the world.

Abacus

Hollywood

Gore Vidal
Authors:
Gore Vidal

Continuing what has been dubbed his 'revenge on two hundred years of American history', Gore Vidal locates this novel in Washington. But this is 1917, and Hollywood is now competing with America's capital as the nation's power-base, just as it fights for centre-stage in this book. Caroline Sanford, erstwhile newspaper magnate, launches herself into the West Coast land of celluloid dreams and becomes, overnight, an international star. Not for nothing, on the dawn of World War One, is Caroline making films like the Huns from Hell. She is a government agent. But in Washington, that government isn't doing awfully well. Weighed down by his League of Nation's failure, by Roosevelt, Clemenceau, a stroke and the ship-like tonnage of his wife Edith, President Woodrow Wilson is on the wane - and Warren Harding is on the up. A popular, handsome, toothpick-chomping philanderer and dimwit whose wife is given to consulting spiritualists, he is about to usher in a new era. One of unprecedented scandal, cinematic extravagance and tawdry disintegration. The sort of era where the President could easily be mistaken for a film star ...

Abacus

Lincoln

Gore Vidal
Authors:
Gore Vidal

In the hazardous fictional terrain of his historical novels, Gore Vidal is never especially kind to American history in general, or to its icons in particular. Yet in this brilliantly realised study of Abraham Lincoln, he paints a surprising and near-heroic picture of the man who led America through four of the most divisive and dangerous years of the nation's history. Observed alternately by his loved ones, his rivals and his future assassins, Lincoln at first appears as an inept and naïve backwoods lawyer. People in this novel are not averse to turning up, getting drunk, and regaling the reader with details of Lincoln's whoring activities and his seemingly inexhaustible supply of folksy stories. Yet gradually Lincoln the towering leader of deep vision emerges in a Washington engulfed by fear, greed and the horrors of the Civil War. Lincoln's loving but mentally decomposing wife, his view from the White House on slavery and America's bloodiest war, and his own, fierce personal ambition: all are portrayed with a vibrancy and an urgency that almost belies what they have now become ? history itself.

Abacus

The Golden Age

Gore Vidal
Authors:
Gore Vidal

THE GOLDEN AGE is the final, eponymous novel that brings to an end what Gabriel García Márquez has called 'Gore Vidal's magnificent series of historical novels or novelised histories', NARRATIVES OF EMPIRE. Like a latter day Anthony Trollope, Vidal masterfully balances the personal with the political, the invented with the historical fact. His heroine from Hollywood, Caroline Sanford, reappears in Washington as President Roosevelt schemes to get the USA into the war by provoking the Japanese. In the novel's ten year span America is master of the globe, with Japan and Europe as colony and dependency under her empire. Against this backdrop there is a glittering explosion in the arts (we see the likes of Lowell, Bernstein and Tennessee Williams and witness the opening night of A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE). But by 1950 and the coming of the Korean War, the Golden Age is over. For the reader who wants to be informed as well as vastly entertained about the last two hundred years of American history there could be no better place to start than with Vidal's NARRATIVES.

Abacus

Washington D C

Gore Vidal
Authors:
Gore Vidal

History is gossip,' says a protagonist in Washington, D.C., 'but the trick is determining which gossip is history.' It is a trick that Gore Vidal has mastered in his ongoing chronicle of that circus of opportunism and hypocrisy called American politics and which he plays with renewed vigour in this expose of the nation's capital.Young Clay Overbury, Senator Burden Day's assistant, has both a modest background and immense ambitions. Extremely handsome, oozing charm and seemingly dedicated to the Senator's cause, he is also duplicitous, conniving, and disloyal. But Enid Canford doesn't think so: she marries him, so providing the Sanford newspaper dynasty with a direct line to the Senator. Her father Blaise, at first loathing his son-in-law, later learns to love him - for all the wrong reasons. So begins this tale of lust and ambition set in the Republic's high noon. From the late 1930s to Jo McCarthy's reign of terror, Gore Vidal charts the seamy, sleazy side of Washington. Mixing sober history with nakedly Gothic melodrama, he provides an intoxicating cocktail of blackmail, betrayal, sexual ambivalence, lunacy and conspiracy - or, in a word, politics.

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