By Gore Vidal
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780375708725, 384pp.)
Publication Date: February 15, 2000
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Gore Vidal's Narratives of Empire series spans the history of the United States from the Revolution to the post-World War II years. With their broad canvas and large cast of fictional and historical characters, the novels in this series present a panorama of the American political and imperial experience as interpreted by one of its most worldly, knowing, and ironic observers.
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 party in power was determined to stay in power. Gore Vidal's 1876 gives us the news of the day through the eyes of Charlie Schuyler, who has returned from exile to regain a lost fortune and arrange a marriage into New York society for his widowed daughter. And although Tammany Hall has faltered and Boss Tweed has fled, the effects of corruption reach deep, even into Schuyler's own family.
"Suspenseful and extravagantly decorated. . . . If you think politics are dirty now, you should have witnessed the goings-on a hundred years ago. . . . Impossible to resist." --Cosmopolitan
"Vidal writes so well that you find yourself holding your breath over something that is a foregone conclusion. . . . Vidal's talent makes the bloated characters of Washington live in a way history books don't." --The Boston Globe