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United States: Essays 1952-1992

4.37 of 5 stars 4.37  ·  rating details  ·  560 ratings  ·  34 reviews
From the age of Eisenhower to the dawning of the Clinton era, Gore Vidal’s United States offers an incomparably rich tapestry of American intellectual and political life in a tumultuous period. It also provides the best, most sustained exposure possible to the most wide-ranging, acute, and original literary intelligence of the postWorld War II years. United States is an e ...more
Paperback, First Broadway Books trade paperback edition, 1295 pages
Published May 15th 2001 by Broadway Books (first published January 1st 1993)
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Gore Vidal's sequence of novels that sprawl across the young American republic's two centuries plus of existence—Burr, Lincoln, 1876, Empire, Hollywood, Washington, and The Golden Age—in my estimation are amongst the greatest series of historical novels ever written; and United States is surely one of the finest collections of essays by undoubtedly one of the greatest essayists that America has produced in the twentieth century. Penned in Vidal's inimitable arch and elegant style, insightful, bi ...more
Certainly one of the best essay collections published in the previous century and I'm not getting my hopes up that there will be anything to be surpass it in the present one. Vidal is sometimes angry and irascible but always witty and provocative, always erudite. His enthusiasm about certain authors is always infectious. I doubt that any reader will agree with all of his opinions. He denies that there are such things as heterosexuals and homosexuals: people just follow their sexual appetites and ...more
Laura Leaney
Pure freakin' genius!

It was totally worth the four years it took me to finish. All the once white pages are now a yellowy color.

I laughed through every essay. Gore Vidal accurately skewered our American paradise with wit and nuance.

Some favorite lines:

To read of Eleanor and Franklin is to weep at what we have lost. Gone is the ancient American sense that whatever is wrong with human society can be put right by human action. Eleanor never stopped believing this. A simple faith, no doubt simplist
Evan Wright
Every year or so for at least the past decade a Vidal interview appears in print or on TV in which he makes grand, outrageous comments about how lame the United States is and also how stupid most of the public discourse about it remains. In his latest, he referred to the 13-year-old rape victim of Roman Polanski as a "hooker." In the public pronouncements he struck me as a clown curmudgeon. Worse, his public opinions are so predictable. Was it any surprise that he would characterize Bush as an i ...more
A wonderful historical perspective-throwing diversion from the yip-yip-yip of the 2012 election cycle or any other. I'm glad to own this collection on paper, in hardback.

Essays including "Theodore Roosevelt: American Sissy," "The Art and Arts of E. Howard Hunt," "What Robert Moses Did to New York City," and "Sex is Politics" (Playboy, 1979) should be required reading in any number of 20 C American History/American Studies courses. Most of the essays playfully seduce the reader to further invest
Apr 30, 2014 Tony rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: essays
UNITED STATES: Essays 1952-1992. (1993). Gore Vidal. ****.
If anyone suspects that I didn’t read all of the essays in this massive collection, he would be correct. The collection runs to 1271 pages plus an index. Fortunately, Mr. Vidal divided the book into three main sections: State of the Art, State of the Union, and State of Being. Since I was most interested in his views on writers and writing, I did read the State of the Art section. I also had to call it quits because of the sheer weight of
David Drum
Writer and public intellectual Gore Vidal left in his wake two major collections of his essays which I recently completed. After reading The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2000, I then completed United States: Essays 1952-1992. These collections were my bedtime reading for several months.
I slept quite well after reading a couple of them each night, knowing that America had produced at least one fully educated man. His essays are good reading.

Vidal was an elegant writer and thinker, a consummately edu
Jim Coughenour
This superb collection confirms Vidal as a modern Montaigne, the best essayist of the 20th century. My personal favorite: "Pink Triangle and Yellow Star," surely one of the wittiest and most malicious pieces of polemicism ever penned.

Simon King
Bitchy, exciting, incendiary, provocative, pugnacious, original, thoughtful, judicious. (Sorry about the adjectives.) If I wrote columns, they'd be along the lines of these.
Raegan Butcher
This guy is hilarious. I always enjoy his biting wit and sage wisdom: "Never turn down an opportunity to have sex or appear on Television." Right on!
Simon Wood

United States is a collection of Gore Vidals essays that were written up to 1992. The book is a hefty tome, 114 essays over 1271 pages (806 grams if your hard of holding), divided into 3 sections: (1) State of the Art - on American writing, (2) State of the Nation - on American politics (3) State of Being - of which I am not quite certain what the theme is.

The essays are exemplars of their kind, abounding with his caustic humour, intelligence and world
Ronald Beasley
Gore Vidal was the only postwar writer capable of teasing out American insecurities about its place in the world from almost every subject. It would be enough to make him a great writer if he had 'simply' written about art, or politics, or the great people he had known, but in this collection it's all three and then some. If you've read the product description or any of Vidal's essays, you won't need me to tell you how diverse his topics of interest are, or how well-versed he is in writing about ...more
I love Gore Vidal's essays.

If I were going to be stuck on a desert island for a year and I could only take one book, this might be it.

His language, wit, sarcasm, insight are second to none (ok, perhaps a slight exaggeration if you throw in Shakespeare). Like Orwell, when you read a Gore Vidal essay on some subject you have absolutely no knowledge of, he draws you in completely.

His political connections and insights are fantastic. He anticipates so much. You read essays that are brilliant and won
Kat Warren
Writing this on 1 August 2012. Gore Vidal died yesterday evening. I'm bereft. Remind all to read this collection essays -- with some hyperbole but much veracity, Vidal has been called the American Montaigne. With regard to his vast body of literature, my favorites are:

Two Sisters
Live from Golgotha: The Gospel According to Gore Vidal
Myra Breckinridge
Palimpsest: A Memoir
Sexually Speaking: Collected Sex Writings
Billy O'Connor
Anyone who wants to look behind the scenes at the dirty business of politics should read these essays. No one tells it better.
One of America's most brilliant writers and one who drips intellectual sarcasm. A great read. Each and every one of them.
Wickedly smart, savagely funny, and wise. This is the most important book in my library. It arguably made me who I am today (so blame him).
Patrick McCoy
United States, the 1993 Winner of the National Book Award, it covers the years from 1952 until 1992. I am hesitant to recommend this tome that weighs in at 1295 pages and is the size of a reference book, but does seem all but indispensable, because it has many excellent and interesting essays. It is divided into three sections: state of the art (literature), state of the union (politics), and state of being (personal responses to people and events, not to mention movies and children's books). No ...more
Getting straight to the point: this is the single greatest collection of essays available in the English language. That's even if one counts the various English translations of Montaigne's The Complete Essays. These essais demonstrate in large part why Vidal was, along with Edmund Wilson, America's greatest man of letters since Twain.
An indispensable collection of essays from the finest man of letters in modern America. The late Gore Vidal wrote the first essay in this mammoth tome (over 1300 pages long) in 1952 and the latest came in 1992, the year it was published. Using his trademark caustic wit, love of history, and the unique relationship he seemed to have with America and even some of its leaders, he charts American culture, history, literature, politics, economics and society.
i am completely infatuated with the man. an irascible proclaimer, unapologetic, lovely in his words like a bloated prince. am reading a ratty old copy, yellowed, bent, and with a phone number and name for some IRS departmental scratched in the front cover, but pages unmarked, as tho maltreated but unread, which would frost the author to the marrow, yes, straight in to the blood-making bits.
Eric Hines
Thankfully this collection stops just as Vidal's politics are becoming annoyingly cranky. Vidal in the twenty-first century has unfortunately taken some of the joy and some of the credit out of his sometimes daring, sometimes bitchy, but always entertaining essays from the late twentieth century. Which is a shame. They can still be a guilty pleasure though ;-)
Fab book from witty essayist. One of the best writers of of this last century. That would be the 20th. Knows the Ancients, their writings and what connects them to us like neighbors down the block. And that's not even the tip of the historic iceberg which covers Many chapters on three states. The State of Art, the Union, and Being.
Maya Rock
Gore Vidal is hilarious. He definitely knows what he's talking about when it comes to American history and some of these are brilliant. And he's good about other stuff too. He is fairly anti-Semitic though and is constantly trying to rationalize why he is not. But maybe I would feel differently now.
Leonard Pierce
Vidal has always been a better critic and essayist than a novelist, and this is his masterwork. A stunning collection of often transcendent (and not infrequently hilarious) pieces on sex, politics, literature and culture. One of my favorites.
Engrossing, frequently brilliant, and sort of overwhelming in its size and scope. I picked this off the shelf often when I was studying at the library and would read selections. I'd love to give it another look.
David Hall
Although I have waded through and enjoyed some of his novels, the essays are what really shine for me. Quality writing, fascinating insights and savagely funny anecdotes. One of my all time favourites.
Marie Collins
Vidal has timeless insights into American culture - pick any essay in the collection and it addresses current events. And he's wickedly funny.
Though he's succumbed to the ravages of age since his best days, this is a wonderful anthology of some of the very best of Vidal
Nathan Timoteo
Vidal is absolutely vital in the understanding of America. I might change my mind on that in the future but I doubt it.
114 essays covering 40 years of his experiences with politians, authors,writers and his life experiences
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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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