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Empire (Narratives of Empire #4)

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  1,265 ratings  ·  67 reviews
The brilliant successor to Burr and Lincoln, a stunning historical novel of Theodore Roosevelt's Washington, America's Gilded Age and the expanding American empire, seen through the eyes and minds of the remarkable men and women who ruled it.
Published June 1st 1987 by Random House Trade (first published May 12th 1987)
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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...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.
Beth in SF
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.
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...more
Jun 13, 2008 Garen rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
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...more
Jan Aldergate
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
Steve Mayer
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.
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.
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...
Bob Groves
Fantastic novel. May be my favorite of all Vidal's historical fiction.
Vidal is wickedly funny while describing historical events with his keen insight.
Eric Huettenmueller
Awesome look at Hearst and the dirty operation he ran. Vidal is amazing in every word!
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
"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,...more
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...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
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
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
Kevin Cole
Vidal's flowery writing in full bloom. I miss the controlled language of old. Yet, the former does make for some funny descriptions.
It's not a bad book, but I do miss the one character I cling to. These characters I fear just don't cut the cloth. But it's Vidal, so I'm not criticizing too much.
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
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
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...more
Tulio  Albuquerque
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...more
Not a page turner but interesting. Politics of the early 1900's. Theodore Roosevelt, William Randolph Hearst, etc.
Betty Cross
Very effective continuation of the Gore Vidal series on American history, featuring the granddaughter and grandson of Charles Schemerhorn Schuyler, protagonist of "1876" and illegitimate son of the title character of "Burr."

Fictitious characters mingle with real figures such as Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, John Hay (secretary of Abraham Lincoln who became Teddy's Secretary of State), and Admiral Charles Dewey. One thing that jumped out at me was that so many of the early automobiles...more
Shoulda stopped with "Lincoln". This was better than "Burr" but still far worse than the absolutely amazing work on our 16th pres.

It could be cause i found the time periods less interesting or because he chooses subjects who offer less of a birds eye view of the exciting centers of power but i bet its cause without the prism of the civil war to focus him, Vidal tends to amble into languid and lengthy narratives of high society political life full of characters much less interesting than the one...more
Not since Catch 22 have I invested so much time into understanding and appreciating a book. Quite coincidentally, I bought both of them at a dilapidated barn filled with used books for a buck in Searsport, Maine.
3.5 stars. It took me a really long time to get through this book, even though I enjoyed it as I was reading. It was dense and took place in a time period that I'm not familiar with (or, honestly, interested in). If I had read this book at the same time I was studying the time period in history, I would have stuck with it better. I really appreciated have a main female characters, otherwise I doubt I would have stuck with it at all.

Thank you to Carlos for letting me borrow this book for years.
This was probably one of my favorite books in the series so far. It was rich in historical detail but still had a scandalous and entertaining fictional plot running through it. While illustrating a bygone time, many of the themes...journalism, imperialism and politics still resonate today. The characters were interesting and entertaining and the name dropping made me glad for Wikipedia as I wondered how true to life these characters were. Great historical fiction!
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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
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