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Hollywood: Number 5 in series (Narratives of empire) [Paperback]

Gore Vidal
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
Price: 14.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

2 April 1994 Narratives of empire
Continuing what has been dubbed his 'revenge on two hundred years of American history', Gore Vidal locates this novel in Washington. But this is 1917, and Hollywood is now competing with America's capital as the nation's power-base, just as it fights for centre-stage in this book. Caroline Sanford, erstwhile newspaper magnate, launches herself into the West Coast land of celluloid dreams and becomes, overnight, an international star. Not for nothing, on the dawn of World War One, is Caroline making films like the Huns from Hell. She is a government agent. But in Washington, that government isn't doing awfully well. Weighed down by his League of Nation's failure, by Roosevelt, Clemenceau, a stroke and the ship-like tonnage of his wife Edith, President Woodrow Wilson is on the wane - and Warren Harding is on the up. A popular, handsome, toothpick-chomping philanderer and dimwit whose wife is given to consulting spiritualists, he is about to usher in a new era. One of unprecedented scandal, cinematic extravagance and tawdry disintegration. The sort of era where the President could easily be mistaken for a film star ...

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Hollywood: Number 5 in series (Narratives of empire) + Empire: Number 4 in series (Narratives of empire) + Washington D C: Number 6 in series (Narratives of empire)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (2 April 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034910526X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349105260
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 103,096 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Addictive ... almost indecently entertaining (NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW)

Rich, readable stuff, and only Vidal could make it work (FINANCIAL TIMES)

Gore Vidal's magnificent series of historical novels or novelised histories' Gabriel García Márquez

Book Description

* The fifth novel in the chronology of Vidal's epic NARRATIVES OF EMPIRE, embodying the passage of American history.

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Slowly, William Randolph Hearst lowered his vast bear-like body into a handsome Biedermeier chair, all scrolls and lyres and marquetry. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By rob crawford TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This is unquestionably one of the best of Vidal's longitudinal series on the governing classes of the US. While the cover is something of a double misnomer - Hollywood is more of a theme than the plot and it barely gets into the 20s - the book offers a deep and hilarious view of what was going on in the period. You feel what it was like (for some of the monied elite) to be there as witnesses and occasionally shapers of events, which is the essence of successful historical fiction, making the reader curious to look to history books for greater detail and analyis. Indeed, I found this volume to be Vidal's most subtle since Lincoln, full of themes and concepts that fascinate and titillate. It is often difficult to know where Vidal stands, at least for me, and that is a big part of the fun.

In addition to the usual characters of the Sanford sibs and Sen. Day, at the center of the novel is Woodrow Wilson. You watch his decline, at once political - he loses his grip on the nation's political imagination with WWI and then the wrangle over the League of Nations - and physical. While he was indeed a messianic idealist, Vidal also creates a very human portrait of him that I read as sympathetic and, while typically sarcastic, almost entirely lacking in vidalian cynicism. You get Wilson's vision of the future as well, which events were surpassing as he dug in his heals, pointing directly to WWII. The nation at war, with all of the moral principles so blithely thrown about, also appeared to me as a prescient evocation of a key part of the American character, its narcissistic belief in the face of contrary evidence that it always acts for a righteous cause on the good guys side - just look at the current war in Iraq!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Gore Vidal has written a witty, intelligent and crushingly cynical book on a partially fictionalised history of Washington and Hollywood in the period 1917-1923 (by fictionalised, Gore Vidal has introduced a set of fictional characters, closely involved with the powers that be to provide a more personal picture of that time). Much of the pleasure in this book is the way the complex weave of world events effortlessly appear in the background of the lives of the various characters and how they subtlely shape the way they think without their realisation. Perhaps the single failing of this book is that it is all too cynical about power - those characters with beliefs of making the world a better place are invariably utterly mad and all other characters (written in a more sympathetic light) have their own self interests at heart. Nonetheless, I look forward to over the coming years reading the remainder of this series of novels.
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5.0 out of 5 stars These are a few of my favourite things ! 7 Jun 2013
By Sweldo
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great books , turning history into gossip ! Eminently readable !
For those who like a well crafted turn of phrase and appreciate learning about an era as well.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Sex,sleaze and cronyism, American style. 12 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A worthy addition to the "Narratives Of Empire" series of novels. Vidal's jaundiced eye takes in Woodrow Wilson's Presidency, the development of the cinema,corruption in public life and the competing interests vying for power within the sclerotic American political system. Vidal as usual maintains an almost Olympian detachment from his characters,yet still manages to insightfully chronicle their inner motivations. The sabotaging of The League of Nations by President Wilson's political rivals for their own personal gain is well done. Hollywood and the rise of the studio system are also dealt with very capably, as are the corrupted lives of the stars and their innocent admirers. The competing as well as shared interests of politics, business, journalism and the movies as a frenzied race to turn a fast buck is rendered with great skill.
Compulsive and addictive reading.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In not as good a condition as described 8 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
So far I have seen only the outside of this book but I like Gore Vidal a lot, so hopefully I will also like what he has written this time.
The condition of the outside of the book definitely leaves to be desired because it is rather worn though in quite a nice kind of way. Luckily the inside looks as though no one had read much of it at all, so it's still quite virgin pages-wise. The later pages particularly haven't been meddled with in any way, anyway definitely not by having been read. And that's the way I like my books to be until I get to mess them up myself.
Perhaps someone bought it at a station for a journey and then found better things to do than to read it. It's the carrying about that looks to have careworn this book and made it look just that tired.
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