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Publisher's Summary

The Golden Age is 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, Washington, D.C., newspaper publisher turned Hollywood pioneer producer-star, 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 World War II, and later, the actions of Harry Truman that commit the nation to a decades-long twilight struggle against communism. 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.

The Golden Age offers up United States 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 will also change listeners' understanding of American history and power.

©2000 Gore Vidal; (P)2000 Random House, Inc.; Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio Publishing, a Division of Random House, Inc.

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  • Overall
  • connie
  • Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • 05-16-09

remarkable novel, remarkable history

Writers of historical fiction should take notes on Vidal's excellent ability to relate history through snappy dialogue and description that is neither didactic nor pedantic. This is also a fast-paced listen, unlike much historical fiction.

I thought "Golden Age" excellent for its reflection on history/historiography, on America as Empire, and also as a novel in its own right - It seems to be both a modern novel and postmodern at the same time, by a novelist who was a minor actor in the events woven into novel.

One downside to the audiobook: I almost gave up on the listen in the first hours - the narrator seemed to have mastered neither the cadence of Vidal's sentences nor the voices of a couple of the characters, so she seemed to insert herself between listener and novel -- but that resolved by hour three.

Imagine! A novelist warning - in 2000 - about Presidents who trick the American public into supporting an unwanted war - not to mention the military-industrial-entertainment complex's use of drug wars and terrorism to maintain a constant state of mobilization for war - all related in an entertaining story. Vidal manages to relate not only the fictional elements but also the known history in a suspenseful manner.

Not everyone will agree with Vidal's ideas on American history, but he does argue for a view that is widely supported by professional historians.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

A great writer, a difficult novel

It is difficult to read a novel that consist entirely of dialogue. Even the gifted Vidal could not pull this off in a novel of sublime literary and historical images. However in the end no one ever moves except to go into an office or a dining room or a dining room for sometimes riveting conversation by and about FDR, Truman and the Washington intelligentsia of the late 30's through the early fifties. He is at his best during the 1940 election conventions and, in the end, describing his life in Ravello on the Amalfi Coast. Although disappointing here, Vidal is still one of the best of the 20th Century.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Marvelous

The Great Master of the historical novel leads us impeccably through the Roosevelt/Truman years with wit, hindsight and revelation. May all this great series be soon recorded!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Ben
  • San leandro, CA, United States
  • 04-18-13

Good book, poor reading

Would you try another book from Gore Vidal and/or Anne Twomey?

Gore Vidal, great as always. The reading however, I couldn't get passed the first hour.

What didn’t you like about Anne Twomey’s performance?

The benefit of audiobooks is being able to hear, clearly, not only the tone of a character but also be able to tell the difference between them. Especially when they are supposed to have British accents. Anne apparently CANNOT do a British accent.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • JR
  • 03-03-03

The Great American Aristocracy

I have never found Gore Vidal easy to read, but I do get a lot from his books. Listening wasn't much easier. There is a great deal of valuable information in this book and I am glad I stuck with it. He gives a great view of the Great American Aristocracy that came to an end with WWII.

17 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Qbook
  • Betterton, MD, USA
  • 12-05-05

Vidal's History is Good

This is my first Vidal book and by the end I liked it. Vidal does history very well, seeming to get his facts all right while inserting fictional characters, including himself. This story really covers the social scene in Washington D.C. from just before WWII to the late 1950s. What I don't like is the cynical criticism of everything. Political leaders who are populist are portrayed as stupid and in need of visionary and intelligent leadership, while elite leaders are discounted from the population and do things totally in their own interest while fooling everyone else. I don't quite know what the resulting point is. Of course Vidal's point is that America's democracy was lost to a ruling class. This was a great book to follow on after Truman, since the time frame is exactly the same

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Gore Vidal looks at America

I kept to figure how to approach this book. I have not read or listened to the books that came before it. I looked online and got caught up on what he trying to do to.

A lot of people wonder why Historical Fiction and not Non Fiction. I think, he is providing a preservative on events. You get glimpses of the events but it much more about how people see the events.

The pluses of the book are the rich dialogue. Vidal was a master at dialogue, it is at times a joy to listen to. The Narrator is another plus.

You learn details of events that are lost to history, a bomb plot at the 1940 Republican convention for example.

If you like History and don't mind fictional characters interacting with real Historical figures, this is a great book for you.


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Wonderful

Gore Vidal wrights with an uncommon elegance. Deep and provocative this book gave me a lot of food for thought I read it along with the Devils chessboard the story about Allen Dullis and between the two I found interesting insights especially in the McCarthyism suppression of the arts while the endowments from wealthy businessman supported those with "the right message". Though this is only mentioned in the periphery. If you are a fan of the new deal and FDR this book delves deep into the personalities and politics involved before and after World War II.

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  • Story

History? Or Not Even Close?

Gore Vidal is known to have an "in" with celebrities, and in this novel he presents a fictional backstage version of U. S. history, as imagined to be told by Hollywood insiders. And this is the crux of my complaint with the novel. First, it's told completely in the form of personal gossip, so it's like eavesdropping for 14 hours. It never breaks away to narrative, or to historically accurate conversation, and for me, that gets very tiresome very fast. Second, most of the characters in the book are non-politicals who are unknown to me, and so their comments and gossip don't mean anything to me. And third, there are a lot of suggestions of military coups and assassinations, various subplots, and wheelings and dealings that almost happened or that might have happened and gone unnoticed - but are these actual "things" or just Vidal's imaginings of what might have been going on?

I got the book thinking it would give me a different insight into the mood and culture of the times, but it's nothing but a string of imagined Hollywood parties. Disappointing.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Scott
  • United States
  • 05-06-13

Boring and Superficial On Every Level

With diligence I attempted to make it through Gore Vidal's "The Golden Age". The story is slow, drawn out, and written in a way to make every superficial detail seem as though it is of overwhelming importance to the story. I have to confess, I did not make it through the later portions of the book. It is the epitome of a book that you read only because everyone else is.

1 of 6 people found this review helpful