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(Narratives of Empire #3)

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  2,567 ratings  ·  157 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 par ...more
Hardcover, 1st, 365 pages
Published February 12th 1976 by Random House (NYC) (first published 1976)
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Christine I read Burr over 20 years ago. It is not necessary to read it first, but it may help to at least know a little bit about him first. Lincoln is not…moreI read Burr over 20 years ago. It is not necessary to read it first, but it may help to at least know a little bit about him first. Lincoln is not necessary.(less)
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3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,567 ratings  ·  157 reviews

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Jul 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gore-vidal
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
Feb 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 30, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
David Mckinnon
Sep 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 07, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Steve Cooper
Aug 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This third book in Vidal’s Narratives of Empire is a pleasant way to absorb facts about the politics and society of a defining period in American history - the presidential election of 1876.

We are shown the massive changes New York underwent in the period between 1836 to 1875 from the fictional narrator’s perspective, and we learn that greedy, corrupt politicians and election stealing are not particular to our times.

Perhaps it’s the narrator’s bias, but there seems to be a whiff of partisanship
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
Perry Whitford
May 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Rick Snee
Dec 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vidal tackles the election of 1876 with the same historical fiction lens as Burr and Lincoln, only for a period in American history that deserves as much public awareness as the founding and Civil War. And, brother, is this one timely. Questionable election returns, the Democrat candidate winning the popular election, faithless electors turning the decision over to the House, who make a sweetheart deal between Republicans and Southern Democrats to let the Republican win -- sound familiar? This e ...more
Erik Graff
Jun 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
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.
Shawn Thrasher
May 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Might be a good book to read right now, as the zeitgeist of the original Gilded Age closely mirrors our own era (the new Gilded Age). Crazy politics and a contested election that nearly led to a second civil war provide the backdrop for recently returned American expat Charles Schuyler and his titled, widowed French daughter Emma's sojourn through the titular United States centennial year. Nearly destitute, they are trying to cash in on the riches to be gained from the rapid economic growth of t ...more
Meirav Rath
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
This books was interesting, though I could do with less tiny details about American politics at the time. Without the fetching characters and the witty writing this book would have been a real bore.
Jul 02, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Americans
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.
Fred R
Jul 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Eric Secoy
Nov 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Apr 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, box-c
I spent the first three quarters of this book occasionally noticing that there wasn't really a plot, but never caring due to the sheer entertainment of Gore Vidal's dialog. My theory was that Vidal saw parallels between the vapid decadence and banal corruption of the USA of his time and that of the country a hundred years prior. Then the plot kicks in in the last quarter of the book and it is gripping! It is surprisingly gripping for a story of a little-known presidential election and incredibly ...more
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
Sam Bauman
Aug 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It managed to be exciting despite the known outcome.
Mar 12, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gore Vidal books make me wish I'd paid more attention in American History class.
Ben Serviss
Jun 03, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
1876: The year everybody fell asleep reading this boring book.
I recently heard that approximately 80% of Americans have not read (or even listened to) a book in the past year. Considering the ease with which we can now access books and the variety of formats available, I find this sad and troubling if true.
Friends and family members will comment that I am making up for the lack of reading among my countrymen (well this might be true since this is the 36th book I read this year). Hopefully, a review may spark some interest in a book readers may otherwise h
A Reader
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel, history
Gore Vidal was feisty, elegant, clever and witty. A prolific, versatile writer. A notorious fueder. A giant of literature. Perhaps, the last of his kind.

1876, is the third volume of Vital’s Narratives of Empire, a series of books examining the history of America. Like his previous book Burr, is set mostly in New York City. It is a novel written as a memoir with Charles Schermerhorn Schuyler, as a narrator. Charlie has just returned to New York, with his daughter Emma, the widowed Princess D’Agri
James P
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
"In 1877, the Democrats would gloat, but they're all amazed when Rutherford Hayes wins by just one vote." - In just one sentence the Animaniacs thus sum up perhaps the most contentious election before 2016 in American history and which provides the backdrop for Gore Vidal's third novel in his [i]Narratives of Empire[/i] heptalogy.

Charlie Schuyler, last seen in [i]Burr[/i], has returned to the United States after many years as chief diplomat to France and is struck by the changes undergone since
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In a semi-sequel to "Burr," Vidal brings back his journalist Charles Schuyler to take a look at the most corrupt time of America's history. It was a time when robber barons and railroad goons bought votes like picking up a lollipop at the candy shop. It was also the first election in which a Democrat won more popular votes than the Republican candidate but somehow, mysteriously, did not get the Electoral College votes.

I'm not getting political here, but Gore does by going deep into the ways the
Tommy Baker
Sep 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The first section of this book is a rollicking, comic romp through the New York upper class society in 1875-76. It's like one of those sparkling, witty 30s movies. Then Charles and Emma move to Washington for the '76 presidential election and we're in what I'd guess you'd call more typical Gore Vidal historical novel territory, which is always fascinating and apparently totally accurate. There's a couple minor reasons why this isn't up to Burr or Lincoln. The socializing of Charles with the rich ...more
Joni Metcalf-Kemp
Why 1876? Well, the truth of this book is much stranger than fiction! So, I won't tell.

Continues where Burr left off with the same narrator, plus daughter, newly returned to America after a long stay in France. So far, very few authors I've read have achieved this level of description and historical accuracy and plot at the same time. You will probably only finish this one if you are very interested in American history--I am patting myself on the back and am inspired by the truth I learned to re
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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

Other books in the series

Narratives of Empire (7 books)
  • Burr
  • Lincoln
  • Empire
  • Hollywood
  • Washington, D.C.
  • The Golden Age
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