THE GOLDEN AGE is the final, eponymous novel that brings to an end what Gabriel Garcia Marquez 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 ...
THE GOLDEN AGE is the final, eponymous novel that brings to an end what Gabriel Garcia Marquez 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.
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Publishers Weekly, 2000-10-02 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. Vidal even turns up as a character from time to time to remind us of his own role in 20th-century art and artifice. Raised in the house of his grandfather, Oklahoma senator Thomas P. Gore, Vidal did in fact know many of the top players in the midcentury American game; thus the novel's details of unromantic affairs, political shenanigans and history-shaping manipulations are rendered believable. Narrator Walker is wonderful. She has a deep, sexy, expressive voice reminiscent of Lauren Bacall, at turns amused, ironic, sardonic, sometimes even serious. At the end, Vidal himself narrates, waxing philosophical on the end of the century and his life during that time. Because this four-tape abridgement of a 720-page book often leaps across chronology, it sometimes takes a minute for listeners to orient themselves, but it's worth the effort. Simultaneous release with the Doubleday hardcover (Forecasts, July 24). (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly, 2000-07-24 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. A series of historical essays masquerading as a historical novel, it endeavors to present Vidal's philosophy regarding our nation's ascent to global-empire status, from 1939 into the 1950s. The protagonists are Peter Sanford, a prescient young intellectual from a well-to-do family, who helps to found the American Idea, a politically radical journal; his aunt, Caroline Sanford, a former film star who has returned to her D.C. newspaper publishing roots; and Timothy X. Farrell, Caroline's half-brother and an acclaimed documentary filmmaker on the rise in Hollywood. The narrative carries its myriad characters?including FDR, William Randolph Hearst, Tennessee Williams and Vidal himself?through the political machinations that culminate in the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the economic boom engendered by WWII, even the dark years of McCarthyism and the Korean War. However, it is in the misadventures of the cynical yet idealistic Peter Sanford that Vidal advances his powerful (if rather familiar) central thesis. Events include Sanford's brush with politically motivated murder at the 1940 Republican Convention, and a bitter clash with golden-boy politico and bogus war hero Clay Overbury years later. In Vidal's view, the U.S. has been manipulated by a dangerously insular governing class for most of the past century, a self-serving and inbred elite determined to use incessant war (be it against drugs, terrorists or other nations) to keep the real decision-making power out of the hands of the masses. Vidal's historical savvy and insider's understanding of the psychodynamics of Washington's power players is constantly in evidence; a feel for the humanity of his characters is not. His protagonists are an arrogant, bloodless lot, and his narrative meanders. Accordingly, what could have been the crowning achievement of Vidal's long career feels incomplete, a philosophical treatise in desperate need of a more human literary framework to stabilize it. Major ad promo; author tour. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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