The Golden Age Paperback
by Gore Vidal
Part of the Narratives of Empire series
THE GOLDEN AGE is the final, eponymous novel that brings to an end what Gabriel Garcia Marquez has called 'Gore Vidal's magnificent series of historical novels or novelised histories', NARRATIVES OF EMPIRE. Like a latter day Anthony Trollope, Vidal masterfully balances the personal with the political, the invented with the historical fact. His heroine from Hollywood, Caroline Sanford, reappears in Washington as President Roosevelt schemes to get the USA into the war by provoking the Japanese. In the novel's ten year span America is master of the globe, with Japan and Europe as colony and dependency under her empire. Against this backdrop there is a glittering explosion in the arts (we see the likes of Lowell, Bernstein and Tennessee Williams and witness the opening night of A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE). But by 1950 and the coming of the Korean War, the Golden Age is over. For the reader who wants to be informed as well as vastly entertained about the last two hundred years of American history there could be no better place to start than with Vidal's NARRATIVES.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 480 pages, genealogical table
- Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
- Publication Date: 06/12/2001
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780349114279
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Review by tsutsik
The last part of Vidal's fictional history of the United states. From Aaron Burr to Aaron Burr could be the cryptic summary of the total sequence.The final book describes Vidal's view on the Second World War, and especially Pearl Harbour: a deliberately provoked attack, which would bring world dominion to the USA. The weak point of his argument is that although he states that this strive for empire is against the wishes of the American people, and serves minority interests, he doesn't make clear just why this minority would want this war other than for an innate will for power, which does not convince me. It is a well written book, in which he even parodies himself a bit, but as a novel it fails, the members of his fictional political dynasty (illegitimate offspring of Aaron Burr, the bad guy of the early years of the American republic), are just pawns in the political game around the Pearl Harbour attack. The most memorable statements of the book would have found a better place in an essay on American history and the nature of American democracy than in a novel. I liked the parallel he draws between the classical world and the position of the USA, and provides a good summary of the main theme of his seven American histrory novels: ,,Arguably, for that brave pompous invention of the Enlightenment, the United States set in a wilderness, forever dreaming itself Athens reborn even as it crudely, doggedly recreated Rome.''