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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lose yourself with Gore Vidal, 31 Oct 2002
By 
E. R. Rice "errice" (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2001 (Paperback)
In this latest offering, Vidal displays again his unique style and the enormity of his range. Included are appreciations of Edmund Wilson, Frank Sinatra and Mark Twain and observations on Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, JFK and Vidal's cousin Al Gore. He also discusses the American empire and the September 11 attacks. Nobody can surpass Vidal cutting observations. A really class act - a few hours in his company is still a cure for all ills.
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67 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite magnificent and 'outrageously' accurate., 29 Mar 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2001 (Paperback)
I came to Vidal late in life and have read him critically but with an open mind. My principal reaction to these essays is anger, at the manner in which I have been deceived by politicians (not least the masters of the US) and at myself for my unthinking acceptance of the 'given' word on world politics. There is, of course, an opposing point of view but I recommend this book to any thinking person with an interest in the state of the world today.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars American Nightmares, 20 Aug 2003
By 
Elberry (Manchester, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2001 (Paperback)
Eloquently understated essays on the violence, weirdness and hypocrisy in America: Vidal writes of McVeigh, American foreign policy, Frank Sinatra, with verve and precision. He has a historian's eye for the seam between the Disneyfied 'news' on tv, and the grubby manoeuvres of Dubya & his ilk.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PRESCIENT, PROFOUND, AND ENTERTAINING: CLASSIC GORE VIDAL, 25 Feb 2007
By 
MONTGOMERY (WASHINGTON, DC - U.S.A.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2001 (Paperback)
Gore Vidal is one of those writers who always challenges, excites, and stirs up my thinking. While I do not fully endorse all of the views in "THE LAST EMPIRE: ESSAYS 1992-2000", I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. He is one of the best.

In terms of clarity of thought and analysis, Gore writes on subjects as varied as Sinclair Lewis, Mark Twain, JFK, FDR, Truman, Charles Lindbergh, John Updike (one of the funniest, most thoughtful and scathing essays in the book), "bad history", race relations, and the U.S. political system.

Here are two examples of the passion and conviction Vidal brings to this book:

1) "...I invite the Senate to contemplate Vice President Aaron Burr's farewell to the body over which he himself had so ably presided: 'This house is a sanctuary, a citadel of law, of order, and of liberty; and it is here in this exalted refuge; here, if anywhere, will resistance be made to the storm of political frenzy and the silent arts of corruption; and if the Constitution be destined ever to perish by the sacrilegious hands of the demagogue or the usurper, which God avert, its expiring agonies will be witnessed on this floor.' Do no harm to this state, Conscript Fathers." (essay on 'Birds and Bees and Clinton')

2) "What will the next four years bring? With luck, total gridlock. ... With bad luck (and adventures), Chancellor Cheney will rule. A former Secretary of Defense, he has said that too little money now goes to the Pentagon even though last year it received 51 percent of the discretionary budget. Expect a small war or two in order to keep military appropriations flowing. There will also be tax relief for the very rich. But bad scenario or good scenario, we shall see very little of the charmingly simian George W. Bush. The military - Cheney, Powell, et al. - will be calling the tune, and the whole nation will be on constant alert, for, James Baker has already warned us, Terrorism is everywhere on the march. We cannot be too vigilant. Welcome to Asuncion. Yes! We have no bananas."

The Nation 8/15 January 2001 (Essay on 'Democratic Vistas')

No matter what one may think of Gore Vidal, his writings will always engage and challenge the reader to think, and think, and think. And learn.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clever, informed, logical, infuriating: Vidal in his element, 20 Sep 2012
By 
T. D. Welsh (Basingstoke, Hampshire UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2001 (Paperback)
Subtitled "Essays 1992-2001", "The Last Empire" takes its title from an article published in Vanity Fair, November 1997 - one of the 25 which make up this slim volume. Although Vidal's lucid and convincing dissection of the American Empire is the most important topic discussed in this varied and amusing collection of essays, it accounts for only about half of the book. If you begin at the beginning, as I did (once past the mysteriously missing foreword) you may well wonder if you have picked up the wrong book. The first three articles dive into the intricacies of American literary criticism; have you ever heard of Isabel Bolton? Although Mark Twain is more familiar in Blighty (and, indeed, everywhere). Then we learn a lot about Charles Lindbergh, first man to fly the Atlantic solo, who wanted to keep the USA out of WW2, and consequently clashed with President Roosevelt; Frank Sinatra; the Greek poet C.P.Cavafy; Steven Spielberg's movie "Amistad", with a deft sideways fade into Thomas Jefferson's feet of clay and John Quincy Adams' political career; Clare Boothe Luce (with whom, naturally, Vidal was used to hob-nob at cocktail parties); bad American historians...

Most of the book's second half, in contrast, is devoted to analyzing American politics - especially foreign policy. Vidal blends the common facts that we all know (or think we do) with the inside stories that he got from personal contacts ranging from John F Kennedy to Timothy McVeigh, and comes up with a devastatingly logical and factually accurate denunciation of "the last empire". In this respect, his work stands alongside that of household names like Noam Chomsky and Ralph Nader. Characteristically, the book ends with a single-spaced list of US military operations against foreign nations since 1948. It runs to seven and a half pages.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A daily abuse of civil liberties, 9 May 2008
By 
Luc REYNAERT (Beernem, Belgium) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2001 (Paperback)
In these 'truly' exceptional essays, Gore Vidal poses the only 'truly' ultimate question: 'What happened to all of us for most of our lives?' His answers are also 'truly' devastating.

He exposes an empire (the US) which spends half of its national budget to impose her vision of the world on the rest: 'For 50 years we have supported too many tyrants, overthrown too many democratic governments, wasted too much of our own money in other people's civil wars to pretend we're just helping out all those poor little folks all around the world who love freedom and democracy.'

What is this vision in Vidal's words?
No public healthcare (Everybody `has the right to die unhelped'),
Governing by laws ... and lawyers,
Media obsessed with sex (not with `who collects what money from whom for what'),
Leaders as powerless figureheads,
A fiercely disinformed population,
Massive investments in war matters (`the same money spent on the country's infrastructure - our rotted home base -would have saved us debt, grief, blood') turning the Union into a socialist country for the rich and free enterprise for the poor (`public money doesn't go to the people, but to big business')
Civil liberties abused on a daily basis
A `moral' majority explaining the `moral' chaos by the free distribution of condoms ...

By the way, Gore Vidal exposes also the myths about Pearl Harbor, the dropping of the A-bombs on Japan, the 1948 Berlin crisis and some disturbing facts about the Oklahoma bombing.
His portrait of Frank Sinatra is astonishing, of Harry Truman dark (the National Security Act), of Clare Boothe Luce candid (`Time' is fiction) and of JFK devastating.

Gore Vidal is one of the greatest and most astute political commentators in US history. His books are (and will be) a must read for all present and future US historians, professional or amateur. Hopefully, those will show at least a small part of his courage.

N.B. I do not agree that `ultimately' the JFK and dalla Chiesa murders were Mafia hits.
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5.0 out of 5 stars gore vidal's last great collection, 15 July 2013
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This review is from: The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2001 (Paperback)
this is possible gore vidal's last great work--before age/illness imposed too great a toll on his powers. the pieces are uniformly witty and acute, perspicuous and perspicacious as one would expect. he will remain essential because of his unfailing criticism of what he herein terms 'received wisdom.' like Byron, and every bit as corrosively, he attacks the vanity--usually unjustified--greed and stupidity of those in power.
not recommended to those who like David Cameron/Margaret Thatcher et al.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PRESCIENT, PROFOUND, AND ENTERTAINING: CLASSIC GORE VIDAL, 31 Oct 2003
By 
MONTGOMERY (WASHINGTON, DC - U.S.A.) - See all my reviews
Gore Vidal is one of those writers who always challenges, excites, and stirs up my thinking. While I do not fully endorse all of the views expressed in "THE LAST EMPIRE: ESSAYS 1992-2000", I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. He is one of the best.
In terms of clarity of thought and analysis, Gore writes on subjects as varied as Sinclair Lewis, Mark Twain, JFK, FDR, Truman, Charles Lindbergh, John Updike (one of the funniest, most thoughtful and scathing essays in the book), "bad history", race relations, and the U.S. political system.
Here are two examples of the passion and conviction Vidal brings to this book:
1) “…I invite the Senate to contemplate Vice President Aaron Burr’s farewell to the body over which he himself had so ably presided: ‘This house is a sanctuary, a citadel of law, of order, and of liberty; and it is here in this exalted refuge; here, if anywhere, will resistance be made to the storm of political frenzy and the silent arts of corruption; and if the Constitution be destined ever to perish by the sacrilegious hands of the demagogue or the usurper, which God avert, its expiring agonies will be witnessed on this floor.’ Do no harm to this state, Conscript Fathers.” (essay on ‘Birds and Bees and Clinton’)
2) "What will the next four years bring? With luck, total gridlock. … With bad luck (and adventures), Chancellor Cheney will rule. A former Secretary of Defense, he has said that too little money now goes to the Pentagon even though last year it received 51 percent of the discretionary budget. Expect a small war or two in order to keep military appropriations flowing. There will also be tax relief for the very rich. But bad scenario or good scenario, we shall see very little of the charmingly simian George W. Bush. The military – Cheney, Powell, et al. – will be calling the tune, and the whole nation will be on constant alert, for, James Baker has already warned us, Terrorism is everywhere on the march. We cannot be too vigilant. Welcome to Asuncion. Yes! We have no bananas.”
The Nation 8/15 January 2001 (Essay on ‘Democratic Vistas’)
No matter what one may think of Gore Vidal, his writings will always engage and challenge the reader to think, and think, and think. And learn.
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The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2001
The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2001 by Gore Vidal (Paperback - 4 April 2002)
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