The Golden Age by Gore Vidal

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Synopsis

The Golden Age is the concluding volume in Gore Vidal's celebrated and bestselling Narratives of Empire series-a unique pageant of the national experience from the United States' entry into World War Two to the end of the Korean War.

The historical novel is once again in vogue, and Gore Vidal stands as its undisputed American master. In his six previous narratives of the American empire-Burr, Lincoln, 1876, Empire, Hollywood, and Washington, D.C.-he has created a fictional portrait of our nation from its founding that is unmatched in our literature for its scope, intimacy, political intelligence, and eloquence. Each has been a major bestseller, and some have stirred controversy for their decidedly ironic and unillusioned view of the realities of American power and of the men and women who have exercised that power.

The Golden Age is Vidal's crowning achievement, a vibrant tapestry of American political and cultural life from 1939 to 1954, when the epochal events of World War Two and the Cold War transformed America, once and for all, for good or ill, from a republic into an empire. The sharp-eyed and sympathetic witnesses to these events are Caroline Sanford, Washington, D.C., newspaper publisher turned Hollywood pioneer producer-star, and Peter Sanford, her nephew and publisher of the independent intellectual journal The American Idea. They experience at first hand the masterful maneuvers of Franklin Roosevelt to bring a reluctant nation into World War Two, and later, the actions of Harry Truman that commit the nation to a decades-long twilight struggle against Communism-developments they regard with a marked skepticism, even though they end in an American global empire. The locus of these events is Washington, D.C., yet the Hollywood film industry and the cultural centers of New York also play significant parts. In addition to presidents, the actual characters who appear so vividly in the pages of The Golden Age include Eleanor Roosevelt, Harry Hopkins, Wendell Willkie, William Randolph Hearst, Dean Acheson, Tennessee Williams, Joseph Alsop, Dawn Powell-and Gore Vidal himself.

The Golden Age offers up United States history as only Gore Vidal can, with unrivaled penetration, wit, and high drama, allied to a classical view of human fate. It is a supreme entertainment that will also change readers' understanding of American history and power.
 

About Gore Vidal

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Gore Vidal is the author of many bestselling novels including Julian, Burr, Myra Breckinridge, and Lincoln. He lives in Italy.
 
Published March 14, 2012 by Vintage. 482 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History, Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Golden Age

Kirkus Reviews

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Prominent cameo appearances are made by such luminaries as FDR's nonpareil advisor Harry Hopkins, William Randolph Hearst, the young Gore Vidal (already, in his 20s, a Washington insider), an imposingly resourceful Eleanor Roosevelt, and underrated novelist Dawn Powell (who memorably disses her r...

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Publishers Weekly

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The newest entry in Vidal's narratives of empire series (which includes Burr, Lincoln and 1876) is a densely plotted, hugely ambitious novel that manages to impress and infuriate in equal measure.

Sep 04 2000 | Read Full Review of The Golden Age

Publishers Weekly

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Vidal's latest historical novel, which focuses on the FDR, McCarthy and Korean War periods, is like a gathering of Washington, Hollywood and New York gossip columnists--all of whom are Vidal personae

Sep 04 2000 | Read Full Review of The Golden Age

Publishers Weekly

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Vidal's latest historical novel, which focuses on the FDR, McCarthy and Korean War periods, is like a gathering of Washington, Hollywood and New York gossip columnists--all of whom are Vidal personae arguing American politics and culture among themselves.

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Publishers Weekly

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The newest entry in Vidal's ""narratives of empire"" series (which includes Burr, Lincoln and 1876) is a densely plotted, hugely ambitious novel that manages to impress and infuriate in equal measure.

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Entertainment Weekly

In his historical novels, Gore Vidal brings the solemn marble statues of American history to brilliant life by letting them talk.

Oct 18 2000 | Read Full Review of The Golden Age

London Review of Books

Vidal is right to press the issue of Pearl Harbor, but its centrality in The Golden Age not only unbalances the series (causing it to end with two novels on pretty much the same period) but distorts the final volume’s picture of the age.

Jun 21 2001 | Read Full Review of The Golden Age

The New York Review of Books

On November 5, 1987, after a year of reading the published works of Dawn Powell (1897–1965), I published my findings in these pages.

Mar 21 1996 | Read Full Review of The Golden Age

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