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Inventing a Nation: Washington, Adams and Jefferson Audio CD – Audiobook, 1 Nov 2003


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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Recorded Books (1 Nov 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402565755
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402565755
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 13.3 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,082,714 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Vidal's wit occasionally comes across as facetiousness in his brilliant study of Washington, Adams and Jefferson, [the Republic's] founding fathers.' -- The Times, August 28 2004

‘by turns enchanting, persuasive, vexing...No admirer of Vidal’s would wish to miss this sparkling historical excursion' -- Ferdinand Mount, Sunday Times, 16 November 2003 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Gore Vidal, novelist, essayist, and playwright, is one of America's great men of letters. Among his many books are United States: Essays 1951-1991 (winner of the National Book Award), Burr: A Novel, Lincoln, and the recent Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Robin on 10 Aug 2005
Format: Paperback
A fellow reviewer, darkgenius, suggests that Gore Vidal is sanctimonious in this brief history of the birth of a nation, but I think he and others of his persuasion are missing the point.
You don't read Vidal if you want a cosy retelling of the story as written in the school text books, which are - after all - always written by victors. Vidal's strength is that he cuts through the cliches and accepted interpretations and presents the facts within the context of his own liberal isolationist standpoint, a position which his grandfather, a US senator, also shared.
The result is a fairly light hearted while still absolutely factual account of America. This is history without the plethora of dates and accounts of what people were wearing and what type of earthenware they were eating from. It places the famous names of America's founding fathers within their context of the nation as it has grown, and in doing so, Vidal demonstrates how far America has deviated from what the founding fathers not only imagined, but would ever have wanted. It's a fascinating book.
Don't buy it if you're scared of thinking, though.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Theodore A. Rushton on 7 Dec 2003
Format: Hardcover
Everyone knows George Washington is "the father of his country" who refused a salary as commander-in-chief of the
revolutionary armies; the first paragraph of this delightful book points out he collected $100,000 in "expenses."
Gore Vidal has an incisive way of cutting through hypocrisy, and in this book he takes aim at the often very bitter and
scorched-earth politics that accompanied the founding of the United States of America. His portrayal of just three founders
make today's politicians look as wimpy as a babble of Girl Scouts quibbling about their last box of broken peppermint
cookies. Pardon me, I don't mean to insult any Girl Scouts; given their ability to sell cookies, they could probably do better
than today's "polluticians."
He links many pecadilloes of the men who created America to modern times; I think, but I'm not sure, that he wants to
contrast the founding idealism of the birth of a new democracy to the banal and petty politics which now infect public life. In
reality, this book gives me hope that Americans are far better than their politicians -- in 1787, when they were writing the
Constitution, and today when so many politicians are trashing it.
Vidal is witty, incisive and a delight to read. One of the warm fuzzy images of Washington shows him wrapped in warm winter
clothes as he kneels in prayer in the snow at Valley Forge. Why was Washington praying? Perhaps, as Vidal explains, because
he was "dealing with a crooked Congress that was allowing food and supplies to be sold to the British army while embezzling
for themselves money appropriated for 'the naked and distressed soldiers,' as Washington referred to his troops."
In other words, this isn't your usual history.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By James Gallen TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 22 July 2006
Format: Paperback
"Inventing A Nation" is Gore Vidal's witty and irreverent look at the three main characters, George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson who, together and in competition, invented the United States. Reporting the contributions, strengths and faults of each, Vidal carries the early years of our country from the Revolution through the Louisiana Purchase and on to the end of the Founders' Era, with the death of Adams and Jefferson on July 4, 1826. Besides the three main characters, the reader also gains insights into the roles of lesser players, such as John Jay, Aaron Burr and John Marshall, particularly as they shared scenes on the world stage with the main characters.

I found this book to be both entertaining and irritating. Vidal's unusual ability to turn a phrase keeps this book moving along. At times Vidal suddenly shifts from events early in our history to current political topics. Vidal has a way of presenting his impression of current issues as universally accepted fact. An example of this is his leap from a discussion of the Alien and Sedition Acts of the Adams Administration to contemporary anti-terrorist laws, which Vidal sees as similar infringements on civil rights. This I find irritating. I did gain some insights into new ways of viewing individuals and developments in this portion of our history, although I can say that I found other books to be more informative. Because the new material was relatively sparse and the cheap shots at modern policies so irritating, I seriously considered giving up on this book before completion, something I almost never do. On the balance, I am glad that I stuck with it, but, knowing what I know now, I am not sure that I would start it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By rob crawford TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 11 May 2011
Format: Paperback
Vidal sees most contemporary politicians not as men of ideas concerned with society and ideals, but as demagogues who are conducting the family business. His legacy of historical novels is an absolute delight to those who tired of the official, self-congratulatory version of US history: with few exceptions, America's top pols are portrayed as petty men of parochial concern even when endowed with political genius. I have often wondered where the line is between Vidal's own opinion and his novelistic portrayals, which are unfailingly vivid and hilariously subtle.

Though I expected a continuation of his seeming reflexive cynicism, in my reading this book is a surprising delight. In a long unevenly flowing essay, Vidal focuses on the founding fathers with a mixture of respect and denunciation, singling out Franklin, Jefferson, and Hamilton as distinctive Enlightenment geniuses, indeed as the most outstanding of these men of the 18C.

He starts with Franklin, who ominously predicted that corruption would lead to the downfall of the American Republic, a warning that was ignored until recently. Washington comes off as a great executive and uniquely brilliant politician, who shrewdly engineered an image that had great world impact and enshrined his fame for posterity. Jefferson, by far the most enigmatic character in my reading, is an idealist full of very human contradiction (an anti-artistocratic aristocrat, a slave-holding opponent of slavery) and political savvy. Hamilton comes off as the true demagogue, stopping at nothing to gain power and spawning corruption to his own ends while writing much of perhaps the greatest poli-sci classic from the Enlightenment.
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