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The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2000

3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  1,284 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
Like his National Book Award—winning United States, Gore Vidal’s scintillating ninth collection, The Last Empire, affirms his reputation as our most provocative critic and observer of the modern American scene. In the essays collected here, Vidal brings his keen intellect, experience, and razor-edged wit to bear on an astonishing range of subjects. From his celebrated prof ...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published June 11th 2002 by Vintage (first published May 2001)
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Nov 13, 2014 Tristan rated it really liked it
2016 POST-ELECTION UPDATE: one can't imagine what trenchant barbs Vidal would have uttered concerning the state and level of discourse of American society right now. My personal opinion is he would have preferred permanent exile over having to reside in it.


It is fair to say that I received the bulk of my education about the - ever unfolding - drama that is the United States of America from Gore Vidal.

He was instrumental in shattering some of my misconcep
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Aug 05, 2012 Nathan "N.R." Gaddis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
Once upon a time a friend of mine included Gore Vidal among his list of closeted anarchists. I have held Vidal in high regard ever since, despite having read precious little from him.

The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2000 is simply the one volume of his two dozen plus books of essays and non-fiction which I happened to have at hand. If you have any interest in twentieth century literature and politics you will want to read one of these collections, perhaps going whole-hog with his 1300 page United St
Aug 22, 2010 KOMET rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gore-vidal, essays
GORE VIDAL is one of those writers who always challenges, excites, and stirs up my thinking. While I do not fully endorse all of the views in "THE LAST EMPIRE: ESSAYS 1992-2000", I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. He is one of the best.

In terms of clarity of thought and analysis, Gore writes on subjects as varied as Sinclair Lewis, Mark Twain, JFK, FDR, Truman, Charles Lindbergh, John Updike (one of the funniest, most thoughtful and scathing essays in the book), "bad history", race relations, and
Nov 05, 2014 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection of essays on literary, biographical, and historical subjects runs the gamut between the brilliant (his takedown of John Updike) and the pedestrian (some of his political pieces). In general, the period covered is the Clinton Presidency, though there are echoes going all the way back to Herbert Hoover and FDR.

Gore Vidal is a unique figure in our recent history: Because of his family connections, he has met with (and even befriended) many of the major figures of the Twentieth Centu
Jul 26, 2014 Will rated it it was amazing
I can't believe it's taken my entire adult life thus far to discover Gore Vidal.

This book is a collection of essays that he's written during the last few years of the 20th century about the United States. It's broken up into 4 parts ranging from famous literary authors, to past presidents, and the imperialism of the U.S.

Gore himself comes from a privileged background, a wealthy family including the Gores (thus his first name). He ran for office, but was mainly successful with his writing. The
Erik Graff
Jan 13, 2010 Erik Graff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Americans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: biography
It's hard to know how to categorize this collection of reprinted essays. Some are primarily literary, others historical, others political. Since Vidal is so connected to all three domains, however, and frequently inserts himself into his essays, I've chosen biography as the most appropriate rubric.

Vidal is a great essayist, but reading one of them after another becomes wearing because of the repetition, particularly in the soon-to-be-even-more-dated political essays. There is less redundancy in
Oct 15, 2008 Katie rated it really liked it
Timeless political commentary. He turned me on to some depression era figures that iv'e recently checked out and read biographies. What a tremendous time to live. What a tremedous life. Vidal has passion, heart, and, perhaps most importantly, the guts to actually speak his mind.
Jan 29, 2013 Asieh rated it really liked it
Don't always agree with him, but can't help being fascinated by Gore Vidal. Absolutely engaging and over flowing with information
Andrew Georgiadis
Dec 11, 2016 Andrew Georgiadis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, history
Gore Vidal can write.

This is the first thought of the uninitiated a few pages into The Last Empire. Whismical, erudite, multiple-entendre laden prose bursts from every line and page. His interests boundless, GV has been personally near many of the senatorial, presidential (“The Oval Ones”), and journalistic legends of our time. I learned much in this collection of essays from 1992-2002, and it has led to a vast ocean of other reading material.

Why did Truman drop the bomb on Japan?

What was Timoth
Jul 31, 2009 Cheri rated it really liked it
The Last Empire by Gore Vidal is a series of essays he wrote from 1992-2000.
I feel these essays were important to read and I gained a great deal in the process. It has made me feel the need to re-examine some of the American history I was taught growing up, especially in regards to World War II & Pearl Harbor. Because of these essays I will read further into these subjects.

Overall it was refreshing to read thoughts that struck a common chord with my own. Seems a lot of the topics written
Patrick McCoy
Sep 25, 2011 Patrick McCoy rated it really liked it
The Last Empire, weighs in at a reasonable 465 pages in a pocketbook edition. It somewhat recent in the content of its essays, so perhaps of more interest to general readers since it covers the years 1993-2000. He makes some interesting predictions, which unfortunately have come true:

(On the CIA and terrorism): "We have neither the money nor the brains to monitor every country on earth, which means, alas, that if some evil dictator in Madagascar wants to nuke or biologically degrade Washington,
Jul 12, 2008 Jeff rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Liberals, Politics Junkies, Literati
Gore Vidal's Prose is always enjoyable, as is his "behind the scenes" perspective on matters literary and political. Unfortunately, I withhold the fifth star because I have developed a distinctly philosophical prejudice, that assertions be backed up with publicly verifiable evidence, and that these substantiated claims be linked together into arguments for specific claims. Vidal doesn't consistently do this, but, in a book of polemical essays, he shouldn't have to. They are good reading simply a ...more
Shane Quinn
Aug 13, 2012 Shane Quinn rated it it was amazing
My first reading of Vidal has definitely inspired me to read more - both more short stories and some of his historic fiction, which I am very much looking forward to. After an unsure start, when the dictionary had to be kept close at hand, his writing style and choice of words soon became something I relished and enjoyed. Given that it is an edited collection of short stories, there is a little bit of repetition but the style, the writing, the passion and the verve make it easy to overlook this. ...more
Alex Van Beek
Oct 19, 2015 Alex Van Beek rated it it was amazing
There is no other writer who can so consistently make me laugh and force me to think simultaneously. It is astounding how prescient Gore Vidal was, such as when he details his friend Hillary Clinton's efforts to get universal health insurance in the mid-90s, and how this so incensed the Republicans (in the pockets of insurance companies as they were/are), that it wasn't enough for them to deny her her legislation, they had to destroy her personally; we're still living with this today. And when G ...more
Jul 06, 2015 Justin rated it it was amazing
Vidal's essay "Edmund Wilson: Nineteenth Century Man" contains what is surely the best put-down ever delivered en passant, a line which leaves me in stitches every time I think of it. Imagining it in Vidal's haughty intonation makes it even more hilarious:

Anaïs Nin, muse to Henry Miller, Olive Oyl to his Popeye, returns, hustling her jams and jellies.
Mark Singer
Jun 12, 2016 Mark Singer rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays, 20th-century
Interesting collection of book reviews, essays, and obituaries by Gore Vidal. I had never read his work, but gave it a chance after finding this for $1.00 at a library book sale. Vidal was a playwright, novelist, and gadfly who used his position as a member of the USA elite class to dissent against prevailing opinion. I do not agree with many of Vidal's views but am very impressed with his wit and writing style.
Gavin Smith
An interesting collection of essays from Gore Vidal. I don't always agree with his opinions but he writes so well that it's easily forgiven. As a non-American, some of the stuff in here was a little outside of my sphere of knowledge but I still enjoyed it. The only criticism I'd make is that some of the essays cover the same or similar ground so it can feel a little repetitive at times.
Jarrell Fisher
Sep 26, 2012 Jarrell Fisher rated it it was amazing
A spectacular collection of essays and book reviews. An impressive writer, Vidal also has a deep and profound understanding of human interactions. His caustic wit is without comparison in the contemporary literary scene.
Dr. Barrett  Dylan Brown, Phd
As always Vidal is the most lucid, perceptive, and eloquent member of the upper class in existance.

Confused about where we are at as a Country and how we got that way? Vidal tells no lies, and usually with deep cynical humor and irony.

I would have sex with him for his mind.
Jul 22, 2012 Lysergius rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays
Why did Truman drop the atom bombs on Japan? Who started the Cold War? The answer to these and many more questions are to be found within these pages.
Sep 02, 2014 Peter rated it really liked it
Vidal rips large gaping holes in all sorts of respectable people, adding much needed clarity to understanding. Who is doing this today?
Nov 27, 2016 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Educational, erudite - Gore Vidal on his best polemical form. You can't look at politics (especially of the American sort) the same way after reading him.
Bcoghill Coghill
Bcoghill Coghill rated it it was ok
Mar 24, 2008
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Feb 28, 2010
Matthew Bradley
Matthew Bradley rated it liked it
Jul 29, 2008
Joanne rated it liked it
May 21, 2015
Trisha Brindley
Trisha Brindley rated it it was amazing
Dec 02, 2013
LiA rated it liked it
Feb 04, 2013
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Thomas O'Donnell rated it really liked it
Aug 14, 2015
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Dickie Fester rated it it was amazing
May 11, 2016
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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
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“Wilson was very much school of Montaigne. Like Montaigne, he was not exactly misogynistic but he felt that the challenge of another male mind was the highest sort of human exchange while possession of a beautiful woman was also of intense importance to him.” 0 likes
“When Franklin says yes, yes, yes, he isn’t agreeing with you. He’s just listening to you.” 0 likes
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