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Empire (Narratives of Empire #4)

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  1,585 Ratings  ·  83 Reviews
Empire, the fourth novel in Gore Vidal's monumental six-volume chronicle of the American past, is his prodigiously detailed portrait of the United States at the dawn of the twentieth century as it begins to emerge as a world power. While America struggles to define its destiny, beautiful and ambitious Caroline Sanford fights to control her own fate. From the back offices o ...more
Hardcover, 651 pages
Published October 6th 1998 by Modern Library (first published May 12th 1987)
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Nov 23, 2007 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second book from Gore Vidal's "Narratives of Empire" that I've read, and like the other one, Burr, I enjoyed it very much. All of the books in this series feature real figures from history set against a background of real historical events, meticulously researched by Vidal -- a respected American historian.

Empire is set around the turn of the 20th Century, and chronicles various events -- the assassination of President McKinley, the capture by the U.S. of the Philippines, the ascende
Beth in SF
Sep 13, 2007 Beth in SF rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
Gore Vidal is one of my favorite writers of all time. He's the smart guy who speaks circles around you with his vocabulary but doesn't lord it over you. First and foremost, he has always made me laugh. His satire has velvet teeth and I've admired his ability to say it as he wishes. Mixing well researched history with his own creative license has always kept me coming back for more.
Lewis Weinstein
I read 50 pages and put it away. Every sentence is built on sarcasm. The story is confusing, with way too many characters too quickly. Not for me.

I read other reviews on GR and see now that I disagree with almost everybody in this one. Maybe I was too hasty, but there are too many books to spend time on one you don't enjoy.
Mar 18, 2012 Marley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another brilliant entry in Narratives of Empire. John Hay, TR, William Rnadolph Hearst, Henry James, and my hero, Henry Adams. It can't get much better than this. And, of course, Caroline and Blaise. Like the other entries in the series, Empire had me running to the internet to look for people I should know and forgot about, like Payne Whitney and Mrs. Jack. (I'm a sucker for NY high society!)

I was pleased to see William McKinley treated with some dignity as the greatest president since Lincoln
Jun 13, 2008 Garen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: folks who are interested in American history and leftist politics
Very good book however I have the distinct feeling that Lincoln is the high water mark of this series. Vidal is less of a historian in Empire and more of a critic of American history. His personal beliefs seem to be more overt as the series progresses. Not that I necessarily disagree with Vidal regarding the nature of American politics, in fact quite the opposite, its just that the author's ideas are so strongly represented that I feel as if I am being crowded and boxed in to a similar viewpoint ...more
It's difficult to rate this novel as it was terribly uneven. The first chapter was simply awful. The overarching story of America during a turbulent period of growth, on the other hand, was fascinating. I enjoyed the more personal subplot of Caroline and Blaise, rival half-siblings from France. There was a huge cast of characters, many of whom were real people; characters walked in and out of the plot, some recurring, others not. Conversations could last for pages while significant events such a ...more
Shawn Thrasher
Towards the end of the book, Gore Vidal's fictionalized Henry Adams says, "The republic is dead; long live the empire" which is a succinct way of summing up the last 100 years of American policy; Vidal fictionally traces the rise of the American Empire and the imperial presidency, especially how the media can create not only a war, but a president as well. History has been far kinder to Theodore Roosevelt (and Taft, too, actually) than Gore Vidal was to them in Empire. The line is also reminds m ...more
Jerry Caldwell
This is the only book I've read by Gore Vidal; some of his other books have pretty good reviews.

I thoroughly enjoyed Gore's portrayal of the United States at the turn of the century, circa 1900. As you read this book you quickly begin to see how Gore views this country; as an Empire that refuses to call itself an Empire. We got there in a unique way, but in the end that is what we were becoming in the early 1900s, and indeed what we became.

I only gave 3 stars, to be honest, because I am comparin
Jan Aldergate
Dec 10, 2013 Jan Aldergate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read this before, but really really loved all the series, which started with Burr and end with one called the gilded age I think. anyway, the four big books in the series are well worth the read, especially Lincoln and this one. he gives such a sense of history, and is probably the best writer ever about politics! he uses minor historical characters such as John Hay, to give the bigger picture of what was going on. read this book and you will understand how our democracy does or doesn't wor ...more
Patrick Sprunger
If the following excerpt has any meaning for you, you should read Gore Vidal:

[Henry Adams speaking] "(Henry Cabot Lodge) is one of nature's Iagos, always in the shadows, preferring evil to nothing..."

"And nothing to good." (John) Hay made his addition to the indictment. "So if Cabot's Iago, McKinley must be his Othello."

"No, no." Adams was firm. "After all, Othello trusted Iago. I think it most unlikely that our Ohioan Augustus trusts - or even notices - Cabot. No, I see Theodore (Roosevelt) in
Nuno Ribeiro
May 29, 2016 Nuno Ribeiro rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Um livro essencial para percebermos onde começa a noção de império, no país mais bem sucedido do mundo. Um livro parcial e militante, narrativo e talvez até revisionista. Revisionista se considerarmos que o que Gore Vidal se propõe, na sua obra é de facto reescrever a história americana. Neste livro, o que Vidal mostra, é que imperialismo ainda não era palavra feia, rejeitada pelos que eram alvos da crítica. Era ideologia que se debatia no congresso americano. E havia os pro-imperialistas e os a ...more
This was an interesting parallel with some of the current discussions on Empire and Americas role in the world. Those damn Philippines could never govern themselves! We cant pull out! If we pull out of the Philippines now there will be tradition of democracy

Definitely a long read, but shows much of the early debate over empire which took place in this country founded with anti-imperialistic ideals at its core....interesting for today cuz the discussion is still happ
Sep 23, 2008 Isaac rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gore Vidal wrote this massive series of U.S. historical fiction that starts (I think) with Aaron Burr and follows a line of his family down through the political ages. This is the only one I've read. I was inspired to do so after reading the chapter on McKinley's administration in Howard Zinn's 'Peoples History of the U.S.' (chapter 12 - The Empire and the People). This is the era when the country really started getting involved in international affairs, which at the time, Vidal reminds us, was ...more
Steve Mayer
Jul 19, 2013 Steve Mayer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not quite as gripping as Lincoln, but then what could be? This account of the birth of the American Empire makes for fascinating reading, particularly for those interested in the characters of Teddy Roosevelt, William Randolph Hearst, and Henry Adams. However, the heroine, Caroline Sanford, struck me as anachronistic. It's hard to imagine that a woman in the 1890s would've been, as she is portrayed, a successful newspaper publisher. But it's a good read, nevertheless.
Sep 10, 2008 Miguel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very interesting book if you've always wanted to laugh at Teddy Roosevelt or you're interested in the media. Having read Lincoln, it's nice to see John Hay again, back as a lead, and the new heroine is also engaging. The story wanders around more than in Lincoln, balancing among old money, politics and journalism, which is educational but harder to follow.
Bob Groves
Jun 28, 2012 Bob Groves rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic novel. May be my favorite of all Vidal's historical fiction.
Vidal is wickedly funny while describing historical events with his keen insight.
Isabel Ferreira
Sep 09, 2016 Isabel Ferreira rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first Gore Vidal book, but it certainly won't be my last. For us history buffs he is undoubtedly a go-to author.
I need a 4.5 star category for 'I loved it!' Because not necessarily all the books I love would I say were 'amazing.' But I definitely more than liked them...
Jan 06, 2015 Ruben rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You wouldn't think the McKinley era would excite, huh? This was as engrossing as a triple entendre simili. Even my dog liked it. 5 stars
Eric Huettenmueller
Awesome look at Hearst and the dirty operation he ran. Vidal is amazing in every word!
Jul 31, 2014 Spencer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the 4th book in the chronology of the heptalogy, the 5th by order of publication, and the 6th in my order of reading. I heartily recommend reading it in chronological order, as characters and ancestors flow from first to last. This volume spans the years of 1898 -1907. We witness the Spanish American War, the Boer War, the assassination of McKinley, the rise of the Hearst newspaper dynasty, the Wright Brother's first flight, and the creation of an American Empire. This, of course is his ...more
Erwin Maack
Jun 19, 2013 Erwin Maack rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"John, o que vocês todos desejam é um império, e o que estão construindo é um império, e pensando bem até que está custando bem pouco.
- E quanto está custando? - Hay sabia, pelo brilho dos olhos de Adams, que a resposta seria altamente desagradável.
- A república americana. Finalmente vocês acabaram com ela. Para sempre. Como anarquista conservador cristão, eu jamais gostei muito dela. - Adams ergueu sua xícara de chá. - A república morreu, viva o império!
- Oh, meu Deus. - Hay pousou sua xícara,
Elaine Cougler
Empire by Gore Vidal is worth the struggle. It is filled with names and personages from turn-of-the century (19th-20th) America, a circumstance which gets tedious at times. They are, nevertheless, interesting to discover. Such people as Henry James and Ambrose Bierce are intimates of those upper class members of government around whose lives the novel is centered. Great insights into William Randolph Hearst, Theodore Roosevelt and William Jennings Bryan take these famous names back to all-too-hu ...more
Oct 18, 2011 Adam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aaron Burr's great grandchilren have become quite the socialites, buying newspapers, controlling the opinions of Washington, brushing shoulders with all the great Congressmen and Presidents.

More than a bit skeptical of his political opinion, I nevertheless enjoy the Vidal chronicles of the American Empire. In 1876 I felt that the drama of Schuyler and his daughter got in the way. In Empire the family drama not so much of a burden. There was a lot of it but I think it was more interesting in thi
Dec 15, 2014 Claudia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I remember thoroughly enjoying reading Burr many years ago so I approached Empire with high expectations. I awarded this book two stars instead of one only because I learned a thing or two. Gore Vidal packed this historical novel with so many characters, both fictional and real, major and insignificant, that it became a chore to keep track of them. I kept a list of the characters and looked them up in Wikipedia to determine who they were and what they did. Some became significant to the story an ...more
Jul 29, 2016 R.B. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mil-folhas
Na transição do século XIX para o século XX, a obra acompanha as figuras fictícias de dois meio-irmãos que disputam uma herança e que se encontram perto de figuras históricas e que moldam a história. Blaise Sanford, o irmão, que se situa sempre perto de William Randolph Hearst, guia-nos numa viagem aos bastidores da imprensa sensacionalista; Caroline Sanford, a irmã, que se situa junto dos diplomatas que rodeiam o Congresso e a Casa Branca, transporta-nos pela aristocracia da República, enquanto ...more
This was a fairly prosaic episode in Vidal's alternative history of the American Empire. Whereas the excellent 'Lincoln' brilliantly laid out the fierce struggle to become a full nation-state, wherein lay the roots of the future military power and empire, this book takes us to the full emergence of American jingoism and expansionism, at the turn of the 20the Century, encapsulated in the ludicrous figures of Theodore Roosevelt, a hero 'created' by newspaper baron W. R. Hearst. The other main tack ...more
Feb 19, 2014 Jonathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A slow start to this novel, but worth persevering through the first chapter. Once the setting moves from England to America, things start to get better, and the continuing story of the characters who meander through Gore Vidal's Narratives of Empire series, accompanying Presidents McKinley and Roosevelt around the turn of the 20th Century, makes for an amusing and informative story. It focusses on the time that America began to expand its influence across the globe, involving itself in conflicts ...more
Jul 15, 2013 Nae rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh my, William Randolph Hearst and Theodore Roosevelt do their best to one-up each other in this latest Vidal novel I have finished ... in fact, in light of a lot that is currently in our news today they make some of out politicians today (not saying he is "really" like these two, but darned if the first one that comes to my mind is not Al Sharpton) who "think" they are wheeler dealers and "leaders" of public opinion simply don't hold a candle to those who came before them :) I am so glad I star ...more
Tulio  Albuquerque
Oct 10, 2013 Tulio Albuquerque rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was my first book of Gore Vidal.
I'm brazilian, but I have been twice, living in América.
Once, for two and half years in DC.
Another time, in Georgia, I met Dean Rusk (he was a teacher in the University)
So I'm familiar with american history.

I love history.
So, reading about John Hay and his work as the State Secretary
of MacKinley and Ted Roosevelt in the begining of the XX century, was fantastic.

Days of EMPIRE. América rising.
Spain descending.

Japan defeating Russia.

Hearst and the power of the p
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Eugene Luther Gore Vidal was an American writer known for his essays, novels, screenplays, and Broadway plays. He was also known for his patrician manner, Transatlantic accent, and witty aphorisms. Vidal came from a distinguished political lineage; his grandfather was the senator Thomas Gore, and he later became a relation (through marriage) to Jacqueline Kennedy.

Vidal ran for political office twi
More about Gore Vidal...

Other Books in the Series

Narratives of Empire (7 books)
  • Burr
  • Lincoln
  • 1876
  • Hollywood
  • Washington, D.C.
  • The Golden Age

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