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The Golden Age (Narratives of Empire #7)

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  664 ratings  ·  60 reviews
The seventh volume of what Vidal has entitled the Narratives of Empire. In The Golden Age, which offers a fictionalized version of American politics from 1940 to 2000, his main charge is that one of the most revered of all 20th-century presidents, Franklin D. Roosevelt, provoked, and then failed to warn his commanders about, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. His decepti ...more
Paperback, 467 pages
Published December 6th 2001 by Time Warner Books UK (first published 2000)
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"THE GOLDEN AGE" is the capstone to the series of fine historical novels (known as "Narratives of Empire") about America through the ages which Gore Vidal began with "Washington DC" in 1967.

The story begins at a private residence in Washington DC in October 1939, a few weeks after war has broken out in Europe. Several standouts from the city's social scene are in attendance, along with a number of powerful members of the House and Senate (e.g. real historical figures such as Republican Senators
Finally got around to Vidal's beautiful, elegaic finale to his American Chronicle series, which is sort of a sweet and sad farewell to his career and, yes, his life. This installment concentrates on the years 1939-1954, the FDR and Truman presidencies, with a final flash forward to 2000, when the book was written. All the threads of this vast saga are reconciled, and since this is the history Vidal lived through himself, he writes himself in as a character. This might come across as a cutesy met ...more
Vidal is always interesting, but because he lived through this era (1940-1958), he's even more polemical & self-indulgent than usual. He hammers away at 3 points: (1) the Roosevelt administration provoked the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, knew about it in advance, & didn't tell anyone; (2) the American ruling class continually keeps the American people in the dark; (3) the goal of both the Roosevelt & Truman administrations was to establish world hegemony--an American empire--& ...more
This is the 7th and final part of Gore Vidal's series, "The American Chronicle". The book covers the period of US history that extends from just before the entry of the States into WW2, which was possibly encouraged by President FR Roosevelt, until just after the start of the year 2000.

Vidal skilfully and wittily recounts the history of this period during which the USA became an important world power. He does this by interweaving the words and deeds of real persons with those of fictional charac
Steve Smits
The Golden Age is the seventh and last in The American Chronicle series by Gore Vidal. I previously read Burr and Lincoln, both of which I enjoyed more than this novel.

Gore writes of the era between 1939 and 1960. To propel the story, he creates a fictional family – the Sanford’s – and weaves their story into actual political figures and events of the era – the Roosevelt’s, Harry Hopkins, Truman, Acheson, McCarthy and others. The Sanford’s own one of Washington’s leading newspapers. Blaise Sanf
Have now concluded (sort of) Gore Vidal's Narratives of Empire, finishing on a reasonable high after reading these in chronological order. The "sort of", I should explain, is due to the fact that I skipped Washington DC, the sixth volume in the series (although the one that Vidal wrote first). Maybe this was lazy, but I found it difficult to muster enough enthusiasm to read two books covering roughly the same span of time. Also, given that Vidal himself described The Golden Age as a re-write of ...more
This one is highly opinionated as compared to Vidal's other novels in the American Empire chronicle. The general point of the novel remains the same: That the US Govt is out for a globally encompassing empire, even if that means usurping distant lands that are fragile with rebellious or broken government.

The novel peaks kind of early. The focus being on the Roosevelt Administration; supposedly needing the Pearl Harbor attack to make US participation in WWII acceptable on the homefront. December
Graham Crawford
This is my first Gore and I adore. OK - I started at the wrong end of this series, so hopefully that won't spoil the earlier novels for me! I am guessing Hilary Mantel had this series in mind when she tackled Cromwell. The off stage motivational moments that Gore pioneered are stunning and stealable.
One thing that I really noticed was the way he made the scores of characters individually memorable. The George Martins of the literary world - with their castes of thousands make me struggle to keep
Dick Soberman
Great God, Gore Vidal is a talented writer. Written like a narrative rather than an essay, this novel reveals the inner-workings of key world figures, specifically Franklin Delanore Roosevelt, and his decision of whether or not to involve America in the 2nd World War. Vast in its intellectual properties, we see the bourgeoise aspects of the upper stratified class that control the state of our world, and the real aims behind policy decisions. At times the setting and writing can appear to be too ...more
Reading this book felt like being part of a floating cocktail party that never really ends. It just keeps going and going from the 1940 Republican presidential convention to the year 2000 in Ravello, Italy. Vidal presents an alternative view of US history told not from the perspective of the common plebeians (chronicled so admirably by Studs Terkel and Howard Zinn) but from the aristocratic class of which he was very much a member (although a black sheep amongst their ranks). The dialogues betwe ...more
David Drum
I just finished working my way through the late Gore Vidal’s magnificent series of political history novels spanning American history from the Revolutionary War through the Kennedy administration. Having sampled one, I was unable to stop until I reached the end.

The seven well-researched and artfully-crafted novels that Gore called “Narratives of Empire,” written between 1967 and 2000, include Burr, Lincoln, 1876, Empire, Hollywood, Washington DC, and The Golden Age. The series spans virtually a
Jon Wilson
This book grew on me as I progressed. I attribute the difficult time I had getting into it at the beginning to the fact that it was one of (actually the last of) a series. Several characters are dropped on the reader with very little introduction, yet a bit of research revealed these had been major players in a previous volume. As this novel's events unwound, these players faded somewhat as heir, Peter Sanford, took not so much center stage as central POV duties.

One thing that (especially at fir
Brock Spore
Great book. Gore even writes about himself as a young and upcoming author in New York during the Golden (1945-50) Age. He does take a lot of license in that the characters correctly predict the future all the time. But like always, Gore takes you to that place. I miss him.
This was not a terrible book, I suppose, but it just was not up to the standards of Burr and Lincoln.
Joshua Zeitz
Another strong contribution to the Narratives of Empire series. For those who enjoyed "Washington, DC," this volume, the last in Vidal's collection, revisits many of the same events, but from the perspective of different characters. Where the novel suffers is in the too-lengthy scenes that imagine dialogue between FDR, Eleanor Roosevelt,Harry Hopkins, and the stable of fictional characters. Where Vidal lets his politics creep in (ie, the many pages which make the non-credible case that FDR plott ...more
Awet Moges
If you're reading the Narratives of Empire in a chronological order, skip Washington, DC and read this instead.

Washington, out of all the others in the series, felt somewhat lightweight or one-sided, and that is more likely due to the fact that it was written first, prior to the others and that it didn't have the more interesting Sanford sibling as a main character. I found the self-insertion of the author himself towards the end somewhat intriguing but doomed to failure of a narcissistic order
Edmond Dantes
Capitolo conclusivo del ciclo dedicato alla storia americana Gore Vidal - che si ritaglia una parte nella narrazione - conclude compiutamente la storia della trasformazione della nazione americana, nata per essere una nuova Atene e trasformatasi in una seconda (o terza o quarta oquinta..) Roma Imperiale; molti dettagli difficilmente non comprensibili a chi non è appassionato (o studioso) della storia politica americana, ma che non impedisce di comprendere e cogliere l'amarezza di Vidal, che fu, ...more
A suitable conclusion to Vidal's Empire Series, and also a good standalone book.
Evan Brandt
Had a strange feeling of deja vu while reading this book, which is making me think I'm getting old, because parts of it were very familiar and I was sure I had read it, but the end was completely unfamiliar to me.
Anyway, Vidal puts himself in this book, both as a character and as the author, in the end conversing with his characters about inventing them.
There was a melancholy air to this book which, I suspect, had more to do with Vidal's age as he wrote it, than with the subject, which further i
467 pages. Donated 2010 May.

Since 1967, when he published Washington, D.C., Gore Vidal has been assembling an artful, acidic history of the United States. The Golden Age represents the seventh and final installment of this national epic, covering the years from 1939 to 1954 (with a valedictory fast-forward, in its final pages, to the end of the millennium). As Vidal did in the earlier books, the author sticks pretty rigorously to the facts. Real-life figures--in this case, the likes of Franklin
Ed Rogers
Jan 31, 2015 Ed Rogers rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history fans
Having read 'Washington, D.C.' I was already familiar with the era this tome remembers. Though this from another point of view. Historic novels are enjoyable to me when they are well researched, which this is, and when they are well written, which this surely is. Vidal puts one right in it all with Caroline and Peter Sanford, at eye level and in ear shot. I like it a lot and highly recommend it. I'm going to read 'Julian' next.
This is the 7th book in Vidal's heptalogy "Narratives of Empire". It overlaps with the 6th book of the series, "Washington DC, by 3-4 years. It starts with 1939 spans to the end of the 20th century. The focus has shifted to Peter Sanford. America is on the ascendency as it takes its place on center-stage. FDR is dealt with harshly, though fairly. We see the machinations at work in his decision to run for a third term and the lead-up to Pearl Harbor and our entry into WWII. Truman is also dealt w ...more
Nothing like a juicy, historical novel, though you have to do some research to determine the actual from the fictional. Enjoyable, entertaining and informative, the story line read like a cross between a James Mitchener novel and "Mad Men".

Being that this is book 7 and final novel of Vidal's Narratives of Empire series and having not read the first 6 of the series, I would venture to guess that this was more detailed and realistic than the others due to the fact that Vidal was actually there thr
Σκοπός του βιβλίου η αποτύπωση της πολιτικής ζωής των ΗΠΑ από τον Β΄ Παγκόσμιο Πόλεμο μέσα από τις ιστορίες των μελών δύο οικογενειών. Πολιτικές αντιπαραθέσεις, προσωπικές κόντρες, επικεντρώθηκε κυρίως στο διάστημα 1939-1940 με την αντιπαράθεση αυτών που ήθελαν να επέμβει η χώρα στον Ευρωπαικό Πόλεμο και αυτών που ήταν υπέρ της απομόνωσης. Δεν νομίζω ότι τα κατάφερε δημιουργώντας ένα "φλύαρο" βιβλίο με ανούσιους διαλόγους. Τώρ που το σκέπτομαι, πολύ ήταν οι τρεις αστερίσκοι που έβαλα rating.
Kathy  Petersen
Not the best of Vidal's American Chronicle, but not bad. My husband thought it awful. He claimed the dialog was impossible to track, new characters kept jumping in without introduction, and the final 100 pages were proof of a disintegrating intellect. So I had to read it for myself, and I'm afraid I disagree on all points. The Golden Age is jammed with characters, and it does skip fairly large periods of time, so it calls for rapt attention -- or, in my case, rifling back a few pages on occasion ...more
Helen Privett
I've yet to read all of the books in Gore Vidal's Narratives of History series, but this final installment is my favourite to date. Perhaps this is because it features my favourite president, Franklin Roosevelt, or perhaps it is because the events it describes are ones that people I know have lived through. The book is wonderfully written; I love the blend of 'history' and fiction (fictory? histion? surely there should be a new term coined for his approach in these novels). The gossipy, intimate ...more
Kevin Cole
The best of Vidal's latter historical novels, featuring the characters from said novels. The flowery language is contained, too. Interesting and compelling. Best of all is Vidal's portrait of Wendell Willkie.
A wonderful portrayal of ww2 era America and the politics of its day. As one historic event after another comes to pass they are analyzed and commented on by the books characters. This is history at its most subjective, told entirely through the eyes of a group of American aristocrats with a more or less radical left wing view of the world.

Although a work of fiction Vidal's infatuation with conspiracy theories takes away from the otherwise authentic feel of the his world. There is a lot of focu
Erwin Maack
Ao final do século, nem o fato do presidente Clinton haver feito tantas nomeações terríveis baseadas em critérios de cor e de credo conseguiram solapar o principio, não tanto da 'igualdade', que na melhor das hipóteses era um conceito impossível, mas de intercâmbio, única descoberta valiosa da sociedade moderna. Não que um membro de uma minoria pudesse ser agora orgulhosamente saudado como tão meritório quanto um membro da velha classe governante branca e masculina; em vez disso, o que se podia ...more
Bruce Fred Knotts
Really great book which shows us in the most entertaining and amusing way how we got ourselves into our current intractable mess from America's greatest modern author.
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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
  • Empire
  • Hollywood
  • Washington, D.C.
Lincoln Burr Julian The City and the Pillar Myra Breckinridge

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“As for the human case, the generation of men come and go and are in eternity no more than bacteria upon a luminous slide, and the fall of a republic or the rise of an empire—so significant to those involved—are not detectable upon the slide even were there an interested eye to behold that steadily proliferating species which would either end in time or, with luck, become something else, since change is the nature of life, and its hope.” 2 likes
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