The Golden Age
By Gore Vidal
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780375724817, 480pp.)
Publication Date: September 18, 2001
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The Golden Age is Vidal's crowning achievement, a vibrant tapestry of American political and cultural life from 1939 to 1954, when the epochal events of World War II and the Cold War transformed America, once and for all, for good or ill, from a republic into an empire. The sharp-eyed and sympathetic witnesses to these events are Caroline Sanford, Hollywood actress turned Washington D.C., newspaper publisher, and Peter Sanford, her nephew and publisher of the independent intellectual journal The American Idea. They experience at first hand the masterful maneuvers of Franklin Roosevelt to bring a reluctant nation into the Second World War, and, later, the actions of Harry Truman that commit the nation to a decade-long twilight struggle against Communism—developments they regard with a decided skepticism even though it ends in an American global empire. The locus of these events is Washington D.C., yet the Hollywood film industry and the cultural centers of New York also play significant parts. In addition to presidents, the actual characters who appear so vividly in the pages of The Golden Age include Eleanor Roosevelt, Harry Hopkins, Wendell Willkie, William Randolph Hearst, Dean Acheson, Tennessee Williams, Joseph Alsop, Dawn Powell—and Gore Vidal himself.
The Golden Age offers up U.S. history as only Gore Vidal can, with unrivaled penetration, wit, and high drama, allied to a classical view of human fate. It is a supreme entertainment that is not only sure to be a major bestseller but that will also change listeners' understanding of American history and power.
Gore Vidal is the author of twenty-two novels, five plays,many screenplays and short stories, more than two hundred essays, and a memoir. Two novels in his Narratives of Empire series, Lincoln and 1876, were the subject of cover stories in Time and Newsweek, respectively. In 1993, a collection of his criticism, United States:Essays 1952-1992, won the National Book Award. He divides his time between Ravello, Italy, and Los Angeles.
"[A] true magnum opus."
--The New York Times
"A smart, witty Washington novel... You'll be gripped to the edge of your Chesterfield... Long live Gore Vidal."
"Rich in dialogue and mirthless humor, The Golden Age is... a worthy conclusion to one of the finest sustained historical visions in American literature."
--The New York Observer