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1876 (Narratives of Empire #3)

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  1,932 ratings  ·  97 reviews
The centennial of the United States was celebrated with great fanfare--fireworks, exhibitions, pious calls to patriotism, and perhaps the most underhanded political machination in the country's history: the theft of the presidency from Samuel Tilden in favor of Rutherford B. Hayes. This was the Gilded Age, when robber barons held the purse strings of the nation, and the pa ...more
Paperback, 362 pages
Published February 15th 2000 by Vintage (first published 1976)
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What a pity! I've just come to the end of another thoroughly enjoyable book by Gore Vidal.

It is 1876, the hundredth anniversary of the founding of the USA. The widowed Charlie Schuyler returns to New York with his widowed daughter, who was born in France during the 40 years that he was living there. Charlie, the narrator of Vidal's novel Burr, wants to see how his native land has changed since he last lived there. He also hopes that Emma, his glamorous daughter, will find a new husband.

1876 is w
I'm going through my Gore Vidal collection and am re-reading (and in some cases for the first time reading) the Narratives of Empire collection. I love 1876. Every damn page of it. This is the way America was/is not as the gullible unhistoric American public perceives it. I'm a trained historian, and GV is so correct in his portrayals of so-called icons.

1876 is not only a narrative of post-war Washington/New York high and political society, but a comedy of manners. The hand of Henry Adams isn't
This witty historical novel by Gore Vidal is centered around the disputed presidential election between the Democratic candidate Tilden and the Republican candidate Hayes. The major (and fictional) characters are Charles Shermerhorn Schuyler and is daughter Emma, the widowed Princess d'Agrigente. Schuyler, the illegitimate son of Aaron Burr, has returned to the United States inlate 1875 from many decades of residence in Europe (mainly France) as a writer in hopes of recouping his wealth, lost in ...more
Jan 30, 2008 nicky rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: history buff socialites
i like historical fiction. i also like books that take place in 19th century new york city. that being said, this book contains both those elements but just didn't do it for me. gore vidal is a phenomenal writer (as if gore f*ing vidal needs me to validate that) but here he gets too pre-occupied with NYC high society and the story goes nowhere. or maybe the NYC socialites were the whole story. either way i had a hard time finishing it. the first person memoir style was killing me by the end -- e ...more
Pure Vidal - historical fiction, highly readable decent writing, part of a trilogy, lots of irony, satire, a good time. Doesn't particularly hold too steady in terms of narrative, uneven at times, but lots of fun nevertheless.
After a 38 year European sojourn, Charles Schermerhorn Schuyler, bastard son of Aaron Burr, returns to his native Manhattan with his widowed, 35 year old daughter Emma, the Princess D'Agrigente (the title is Napoleonic); his short-term goal is to secure work as a journalist, since his fortune was wiped out in the crash of 1873, his long-term mission to gain a diplomatic post which will enable himself to spend his final years in France, and to find the Princess a rich, American husband.
Erik Graff
Aug 08, 2014 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: US citizens
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: literature
I read this one immediately after reading Vidal's Burr, its predecessor, during the winter break from school of 1983/84. As usual, with Vidal, the book is well researched, its events plausible.
Perry Whitford
I read this in 2006, the year after Dubyah's second election "victory" in America. I had no idea at the time that the sorry charade of vote rigging that bought that unfathomable oafs second term had occurred in the previous century also, so soon after the democratic high point of the Abolition of Slavery too.
Due to that, the lessons of this book are as prescient now as ever, and maybe they always will be America; which Gore Vidal must have decided back in 1976 when he wrote this and focussed on
As America approached its bicentennial in post-Watergate/Vietnam/Embargo disarray, Gore Vidal published this account of another low point in American history: the elections of 1876, a.k.a. the FIRST Supreme Court-decided, Florida-related presidential debacle.

The main character, Charles Schermerhorn Schuyler, is a political journalist who has just returned to the States after a lengthy stay in Europe. Sent to "Washington City" to cover the approaching elections, he becomes acquainted with, then a
Jerry Landry
This was a very interesting and fun read. I would recommend reading first Burr and Lincoln, the first two books chronologically in Vidal’s Narratives of Empire series as there are characters from both of those that make an appearance in this tale. Vidal has an excellent eye for historical detail and makes the reader feel immersed in this Reconstruction setting. The plot flows along rather well, and I enjoyed the tone of the book. As it was written in the style of a journal by the main character, ...more
This was my first Gore Vidal novel, and I was less than impressed. By his own estimation, Gore Vidal is the greatest American historical novelist ever, and in my experience, arrogant novelists are rarely any good. "1876" did little to change my mind about this.

The tragedy of it all is that this novel could have been great. It is set in 1876, the American centennial, with all the drama of Reconstruction, the corruption of the Grant administration, the grand defeat of Custer at Little Big Horn, an
Иванка Могилска
Мудна и трудна за четене ми беше тази книга. Може би защото очаквах по-скоро нещо като любимата ми "Сътворението"...
Освен това не разбрах откъде се появи този пълномощник министър на България през 1876?
David Mckinnon
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The thing with this novel is that the title refers more to the year than to the election. What Vidal wants is to portray The Gilded Age in all of it's decadence and corruption, and I think he succeeds. It feels authentic. It's also quite slow. Charlie spends practically fifty-percent of the book mingling with vapid high society figures. Things get more interesting once he travels to Washington as a reporter, but Tilden doesn't get nominated until three-quarters of the way in. Then, it becomes a ...more
Gore Vidal books make me wish I'd paid more attention in American History class.
Sam Bauman
It managed to be exciting despite the known outcome.
Frederic Pierce
Almost as good as "Burr," its predecessor and my favorite Gore Vidal novel. It features the main character from "Burr," the b
the illegitimate son of the infamous former president, who returns to America after spending the 40 years between the two novels in Europe. It is a sharp and witty political thriller about the corrupt presidential election that marked the nation's centennial anniversary and nearly rekindled the Civil War. Charlie, the main character and narrator is one of the few fictitiou
At first I kept having to remind myself this wasn't Edward Rutherfurd, but soon enough Vidal's piercing wit shone through. They way Julian slammed early Christianity, however, 1876 slammed Americanism -- and this pill I found a bit harder to swallow. "The American electorate deeply dislikes the idea of reform, of good government, of militant honesty." A fictional journalist expatriate returns to New York after almost 40 years abroad and gets himself embroiled in the politics of the day -- down t ...more
Continuing his "Narratives of Empire," series, Vidal again gives us Charlie Schulyer, the journalist who narrates parts of "Burr."--this time as his sole narrative voice. There's 19th century Washington and New York color in abundance here, but what is lacking is a strongly drawn central character, like the Aaron Burr and Abe Lincoln of the previous novels in this series. Disappointingly, Schuyler serves as more of a Vidal alter-ego (as he's talking to luminaries of the day, he's thinking about ...more
Fred R
Another in Vidal's absurdly entertaining series. This, unlike Burr and Lincoln, has no powerful central presence to provide an anchor, and so occasionally falls flat, but the portraits of Tilden and Grant are both excellent, if tantalizingly elliptical. As a wishy-washy liberal, I wish he had emphasized more the corruption on the Democratic side of the 1876 contest (surely one of the most sordid elections in our history), but I suppose he had his reasons.

And what is his fixation on doting widowe
I read this in spurts over the course of 8 months, knocking out the last 150 pages over the past three days (which was, IMO, the best part). I really enjoyed this. I would say it was slow and a little meandering, but that might because I would read a few pages and then not touch it for a month. Because of its journal-like nature, its good for picking up and putting down. But I guess it also says something that I wasn't pushing to read it (also might be because it was a hard cover and heavy to re ...more
Eric Secoy
The middle novel of Vidal's trilogy of historical fictions recording the development of American democracy through the story of Aaron Burr and his descendants, 1876 shows our nation at our centennial, ten years after the Civil War. The centerpiece of the tale is the first presidential election in which the winner of the popular vote failed to receive a majority of electoral votes--and it is every bit as edifying a spectacle to watch unfold as the second. Eerily prescient in fact. Just a differen ...more
I picked this up because of Vidal's immense reputation and because I was impressed with a few quotes of his I'd seen lying around the internet. I picked this particular one because it's a portion of American history that I know little about, and the fact that I just moved to NYC and wanted to get to know a little of its history.

And he didn't disappoint - the blurb page has one that reads "Vidal turns each page into a tray of jewelry." That's very true, and most of the basis for a four-star revie
Charles Schuyler returns from his 30 year stay in France to write about President Grant, Gov Tilden, and the American Centennial. Schuyler returns from France with a real snooty attitude problem about what America has become since his departure in 1830's. 1867 seems to be more about the family line of Schulyer and Sanford than about American history, but I suppose some of the fictional character development is necessary for an ongoing series. What history is covered is done well. The scandals of ...more
If you think politics is bad today, you can find precedent in our history. The election of 1876 was won by Governor Tilden with a 250,000 vote plurality, but it was stolen from him in the electoral college by just one vote. Bribery and fraud literally created two sets of ballots in Louisiana, and mysteriously changing vote totals in Florida and South Carolina gave the election to Rutherford (Rutherfraud) Hayes. Political pundits of the day realized that voters were motivated by their fears rathe ...more
Cian Beirdd
I was torn with this book. The details, characterizations, the intimate knowledge of the period were mesmerizing. Previous readers have mentioned that the narration is first person and consistently with one person. That is a difficult decision for any writer to make because it becomes difficult to maintain but I think he did it because it allowed him to make his own commentary on American society as he went into the underpinnings of the 1976 election. Using one person also allowed the reader to ...more
Bob Gustafson
"1876" is about the election of Rutherford B. Hayes. Sounds dull doesn't it. However, Gore Vidal tells the story from the point of view of Charles Schermerhorn Schuyler, a very Washington Irving-like character, who tells the story as an analyst for the Herald, both the facts of his own life and those of the important personages of the times.

Schulyer was the fellow whose interviews with Aaron Burr were the substance of Vidal's "Burr". Schuyler was away in Europe during the Civil War and returned
Betty Cross
An intriguing fictional look at America in the year of its centennial, as the notoriously corrupt Grant administration winds to a close amidst near universal disapproval, seen through the eyes of an American expatriate who finally returns to his native land after many years abroad as a US consul in Naples. Popcorn (under the name "popped corn"), drugstores, and elevators are new to him, but just as new is the American political landscape.

Deciding it's a democratic year, the protagonist hitches
Politics and prostitution?
This novel centers on the gossip, scandals, deceit, dishonesty, and thievery of politics. Although I feel that it really didn't have much of a climax (maybe two or three small, slightly climactic points), it's definitely not a bad book. I do enjoy his writing style-a very descriptive, almost poetic take on things- very detailed. It is interesting, especially in its exposure of the dishonesty in politics. I feel as though we should learn the lessons of our past, because
Mark Stodghill
well... it gets a little tedious now and again when the backdrop is more the story than the story..... but then again.. by the time you get to the end... you see that was the point
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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
  • Empire
  • Hollywood
  • Washington, D.C.
  • The Golden Age

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