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Hollywood (Narratives of Empire #5)

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  791 ratings  ·  50 reviews
Hollywood marks the 5th episode in Gore Vidal's "Narratives of Empire," his celebrated series of six historical novels that form his extended biography of the USA.
It's 1917. President Woodrow Wilson is about to lead the country into the Great War in Europe. In California, a new industry is born that will irreversibly transform America. Caroline Sanford, the alluring heroi
Paperback, 448 pages
Published August 1st 2000 by Vintage (first published October 1st 1989)
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I am slowly making my way through all the books Gore Vidal wrote. I have to admit I started reading him only in the last few years. What a marvelous writer this man was. Usually anything politically-oriented leaves me cold, but I am now 5 books into his "Narratives of Empire" series revolving around the Washington political atmosphere over the span of the revolutionary war to J.F.K., and I find these books utterly enthralling. If even half of what he has written in this series actually happened ...more
Interesting history but I find his style hard to read. Is it just me?

So far so good. I haven't gotten far enough to tell what is going as far as where Vidal is taking this whole novel which seems, at least so far, epic in scope. This is one of those historical fictions where real historical personages are turned into fictional characters, but so far it has been completely believable. I think Gore Vidal is probably a pretty good student of American history, both political and cultural, though he undoubtedly has a polemic it hasn't shown itself yet. The novel opens
I was sure I'd read Hollywood many years ago, but now I''m not sure. If I did, I didn't finish it. I'm tempted to give the book 5 stars, but will stick with 4 since it's a little unfocused in some places, and talky; though talky from GV is hardly tiresome.

Hollywood expands Caroline Sanford (and Hearst's) practice of news creation as Caroline takes the idea into film, first as the unlikely actress Emma Traxler and at the end, as a film mogul who sees film as the ultimate creation of a new society
Jill Hutchinson
Gore Vidal was quite an author.....he could write the controversial Myra Breckendridge and then turn his talent to a book like Burr. This book is somewhere in between; a historical fiction full of real people and some thinly disguised fictional ones. The title is a bit misleading since the scenario is set more in Washington, DC during the administrations of Wilson and Harding. Hollywood enters the picture when a politico discovers that the movies could be used for propaganda purposes and the ima ...more
This is an incredible book. The paragraph structure can take some getting used to - Vidal likes to interrupt quotes in odd places - and I had to create a little cheat sheet to keep track of all the characters and their entangling relationships. But if you like political history, the book is a must. It's also something of a conceit. It's the sexy side of American history: of our beautiful people and our smoke-filled back rooms of power. (Don't go looking for a more comprehensive social history.) ...more
Vidal captured the beginning of the incestuous relationship between government and the recreational media; the political and social changes presented by "image-making" have been with us ever since. Lots of facts woven throughout this fictional tapestry. Great read.
India Gray
I like his books, but this is the worst I' e read of his. The characters are difficult to keep straight, it is repetitive (he needed an editor), the timeline is askew, and it takes forever to get somewhere. Shame because it could be Interesting topics.
The title is "Hollywood" - Set mostly in Washington DC.
"A novel of America in the 1920's" - Story is from 1917 to 1923.
Although I feel it's misrepresented on the cover, not a bad read. Found it hard to keep track as to who was who though.
I found this book slow and the characters empty. The political background was interesting but made for slow reading as it was just not what I had expected. Lots of history......just presented in a very droning type way.
Brenda Ann
I couldn't get through it. I skimmed the first 50 pages hoping it would get interesting, but at page 180 I gave up. Seemed to me the book was about a bunch of rich people with little to do. It just didn't pull me in.
Rob Salkowitz
Historical novel focusing on the Wilson and Harding administrations, including the political scandals and the cultural evolution from wartime puritanism and progressivism to the Roaring 20s.
Cath Murphy
A deeply turgid read. Vidal never failed to take himself very seriously and that's how he approached his fiction too. A shame, because the project is worthy, it just needed a much lighter touch.
Amy Sheldon
I find it hard to follow the story. I'm not sure why, but the style of prose doesn't lend itself to easy reading. Easily distracted from it, couldn't follow it, sudden changes in plot (wait, what? did this story just jump months into the future between paragraphs?). I struggled to finish this book. It also seemed to be somewhat dependent on the book that preceded it in the series (Significant Statements, which meant nothing to me), which I haven't read and I'm unlikely to read now. Took me almos ...more
Chronologically Hollywood is 5th in Vidal's Narratives in Empire series, and 6th by date of publication. And now it is my 7th, and I have finished! I used crib notes and the family tree from The Golden Age to keep me on track. Historical-fiction is a little explored genre of literature for me, but from my limited experience I'd say that no one does it better than Vidal. Caroline Sanford Farrell is one of my favorite characters in the series, and she is present in 4 of the 7 books. Vidal uses hum ...more
Erwin Maack
Mais tarde, quando fez Intolerância, sucumbira ao espetacular em detrimento do intelecto. No entanto, Caroline sabia o que ele estava fazendo ou tentando fazer. Como Griffith, Tim acreditava que a imaginação do público podia ser sitiada e conquistada. Mas ele preferia, perversamente, apelar ao senso de justiça das pessoas, ao passo que Griffith as aborrecia com grandiosas visões de diversos pecados mortais. Caroline sabia que a resposta estava em algum lugar entre essas duas coisas - naquilo que ...more
Felisa Rosa
I'll admit it: it took me the better part of both spring and summer to read this book. I think Gore Vidal is best when he reigns himself in to focus, at least primarily, on a single historical figure. Lincoln and Burr have scores of intricately woven story lines, but benefit from adhering to the narrative arc afforded by focusing on one man's life. Hollywood , which details both the politics surrounding the Wilson and Harding administrations and the nascent film industry, is all intricately wov ...more
This is the second Vidal book I've read, the first one being Lincoln. I would probably have rated it four stars except it was not at all what was advertised.

I read the tittle and subtitle as being an accurate label of this book, however that is simply NOT the case. The story does take place partially in Hollywood, but most of it takes place in either Washington DC or Ohio. The story is not really about the 1920s because the first 2/3 of it take place during World War I and the Paris Peace Confe
This book dragged a bit and I am looking forward to getting to the penultimate novel in the series (Washington DC) which is apparently highly regarded. I was going to give it three stars but I added another star for the sociological themes on the role of movies in formulating public opinion. I wonder how much this is true today with all the crappy things people watch (Gigli anyone?), but at bottom I think the idea has some validity even if its efficacy has waned over the last century or so. His ...more
This one of the less good installments in Vidal rewriting of American political history. Unlike many of the volumes, it lacks a main protagonist and flits around from politics to Hollywood, but not in a satifactory or convincing manner. Vidal makes the consistent argument that America evolved from a republic [albeit not a shining light on the hill] to a militaristic empire by its gradual involvement in international affairs after the civil war. This book traces the post-WWI era with the idealist ...more
Pete Iseppi
This is book #5 in what I believe is a 7 volume "American Chronicles" series. I have to say that I enjoyed the first 4 more than this one, but that doesn't mean that this one is bad. I found my mind (what's left of it) wandering now and then. "Burr" and "Lincoln" never lost my attention.
The best thing about a Vidal book is his wit, which if you are not paying close attention, you will miss as you are breezing through the story.
This book takes place just prior to, and just after WWI. My favorit
Title is a bit misleading. I thought it would be about the beginings of Hollywood. More specifically, it's about the beginings of Hollywood as a propoganda machine--as an extension and/or mouthpiece of the government. Much of the action is set in Washington DC and centers on the Wilson presidency and then later the Harding administration. So many many many characters it's like being in a long historical parade. Many of the characters are historical figures of note, so part of the challenge for m ...more
I read this in my book club. Boring! It did have some nice historical notes from the years 1900-1930 or so. But it was slow and really, to me, was not compelling.
Gore Vidal is an excellent writer and I find his American history series compelling. This period becomes more accessible through the imagined dialogues and behind-the-scenes relations among the political and cultural influential figures of the 1920's. It goes far in connecting the dots between Washington, DC's ideological/political agendas (national and international) and the burgeoning film industry in Hollywood, CA. As such, a worthwhile read to connect with the entire series, but compared wit ...more
One of my favorite lines from this book is - the movie stars have big heads and little bodies.
Steve Mayer
The third of these books that I've read in a row and, not surprisingly, the least satisfying. Although it is subtitled as a story of America in the 1920s, in fact the first half of the book takes place before 1920, during the presidency of Woodrow Wilson. Be that as it may, our heroine Caroline Sanford has left Washington DC for Hollywood, where she decides that making movies is a better way than owning a newspaper to mold public opinion. Yet we still get satisfying cameos from various players i ...more
Kevin Cole
Only for Vidal fans.
Joseph Longo
Couldn't get into the book. Didn't finish it. Just abandoned it.
Amber Guyton
I was disappointed with this book, in part, because I had read another of his books, Burr, some years ago and absolutely loved it. I don't know if this means I need to stick to his books set in earlier periods, or if he is an author that, for me, is going to be very hit or miss. I did love a couple of passages very early in the book, but other than that I wasn't all that crazy about this one.
Officially done with this book. Checked it out twice from the library and STILL didn't get through this. Sorry Krisha and Jamie for picking a lousy book club read
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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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Other Books in the Series

Narratives of Empire (7 books)
  • Burr
  • Lincoln
  • 1876
  • Empire
  • Washington, D.C.
  • The Golden Age
Lincoln Burr Julian The City and the Pillar Myra Breckinridge

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