• Lincoln

  • A Novel (Narratives of Empire, Book 2)
  • By: Gore Vidal
  • Narrated by: Grover Gardner
  • Length: 32 hrs and 54 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (436 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Lincoln is the cornerstone of Gore Vidal’s fictional American chronicle, which includes Burr; 1876; Washington, D.C.; Empire; and Hollywood. It opens early on a frozen winter morning in 1861, when President-elect Abraham Lincoln slips into Washington, flanked by two bodyguards. The future president is in disguise, for there is talk of a plot to murder him. During the next four years there will be numerous plots to murder this man who has sworn to unite a disintegrating nation. 

Isolated in a ramshackle White House in the center of a proslavery city, Lincoln presides over a fragmenting government as Lee’s armies beat at the gates. In this profoundly moving novel, a work of epic proportions and intense human sympathy, Lincoln is observed by his loved ones and his rivals. The cast of characters is almost Dickensian: politicians, generals, White House aides, newspapermen, Northern and Southern conspirators, amiably evil bankers, and a wife slowly going mad. 

Vidal’s portrait of the president is at once intimate and monumental, stark and complex, drawn with the wit, grace, and authority of one of the great historical novelists.

©1984 by Gore Vidal. (P)2019 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

What listeners say about Lincoln

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Patience with Lincoln Pays Great Rewards

The genius and berth of Gore Vidal's knowledge is on full display with Lincoln. With meticulous detail, vivid imagination, and a eye towards the nuance of historical context, Vidal's Lincoln is a thick stew of storytelling that savors from the inauguration until our 12th President's final days in a way that simultaneously captures the highbrow dynamics of running the US executive branch (complete with the tensions of alternative points of view) and the underbelly of pro-slavery factions from the South.

Vidal's masterful treatment of this turning point in our nation is part lyrical imagination of how Lincoln thought and spoke, part historical context of emancipation, and part psychological expose of all the players of the time.

Narrator Grover Gardner handles the richness of characters brilliantly by modulating this voice according to who is speaking at any given point in the book. After a few hours of listening, one is completely able to determine the speaker, merely by the consistency of Gardner's voice work. His artistry enriches, not only the spoken word, by animates each of the characters in Vidal's extensive tome.

With some 30+ hours of listening, be patient and enjoy this historic novel in fits and starts. By the end, you will feel the pulse of America's history and gain an expert's understanding of Lincoln's Presidency all with an immersive expose that only Gore Vidal can provide.

20 people found this helpful

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Finally! Burr & Lincoln!

after years of continually checking - here they are and so worth the wait. I had read both, Burr multiple times. Vidal's historic fiction masterworks are equally brilliant on Audible. Lincoln particularly constructs the characters so vividly that I found myself talking back to them. Please Brilliance - 1876 next.

17 people found this helpful

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Gardner is my favorite Lincoln.

After Daniel Day-Lewis, of course. Sam Waterston is a close third.

I read this when I was a teenager. Back then I thought it was a masterpiece. Now I'm more inclined to think of it as solid, with moments of brilliance but some flaws. The cynicism seems less like The Truth and more like adolescent glibness. The subplot with David Harrold strikes me as pointless. The saga of Kate Chase and William Sprague is less pointless, but both characters are thin. The two of them, and Harrold, could probably be removed to the novel's benefit.

Lincoln is at its best when it's about Lincoln. I recall reading somewhere that his subordinates, who thought him a joke in 1860, were in agreement by 1865 that he was a genius, and a perfect a man as a man can ever be. Here is a convincing portrayal of a man who could pull that off. Vidal's Lincoln is blithe yet depressive, humble yet ambitious, fatalistic yet determined, empathetic yet utterly closed-off, emancipator of the slaves yet buffoonishly insensitive to them, politician mastermind, and savior of the Union. The scene where he out-foxes Chase in front of colleagues and legislators is a awesome moment, almost worth the price of the book. Also good is any scene where Grant shows up.

We were lucky to have had him and Lincoln. A lot of people think the Confederacy was a lost cause from day one, but I'm not convinced. I think the odds were against them, but not utterly so. Good leadership is what sealed it, which we fortunately had in the White House.

In summary, some flaws, yes, but still a solid, borderline excellent read. I've read three of Vidal's Narratives of Empire Series: this, Burr, and 1876; and I would rank them in that order. This is the book to start with.

9 people found this helpful

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Good novel if you know the subject

The structure is brilliant ..we enter the story as Lincoln enters Washington under threat and in disguise... the threat deapens and the president is revealed through his appointments, his words and others’ diary entries.
The war comes and battles are variously highlited..showing war room reaction as they read telegrams... A brilliant history ...if you can piece it together .. a good novel with a character showing the Resistance and salted with autentic quotes.. even though it is packed with facts I would not recommend as an introduction to either Lincoln or the civil war.

9 people found this helpful

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Feeling a little disappointed....

After reading and loving "Burr" I eagerly dove into this second volume but found this one lacking in the witty irreverence that I so loved in the Burr novel. While this is certainly solid fiction, there were times I felt the novel was tedious. The focus was heavily on Lincoln's relationship with his political rivals and aides and it just didn't interest me. I'm not so eager now to finish the rest of the serious which I have already purchased.

4 people found this helpful

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Such a masterful telling of the life of Lincoln!

I believe you can determine how much you like a book by how many stories from its pages you tell others. I can't remember how many times I have told told the story of the dialogue between Lincoln and Seward where Lincoln says that if the city continues to obstruct the movement of Union troops, he will "burn Baltimore to the ground." Seward finally realizes that someone serious is in charge. There are countless such vignettes that have made me read this book over and over. And such turns of phrase: Thaddeus Stevens, the congressional wit, when asked plaintively by Lincoln if his corrupt Secretary of War Simon Cameron would steal replied, "I don't think he would steal a red-hot stove." Upon being confronted by Cameron after hearing about this, Stevens revised his statement, "Alright, I don't think that Cameron would not steal a red-hot stove."

How can you top this stuff? Lincoln's handling of the crisis with his chief rival Salmon P Chase and the congressional radicals shows him to be a master of political maneuvering. Then, late in the book, as Lincoln is walking down the hall with Seward and two gentlemen from New York, it finally dawns on Seward just what that political genius is. For four years, while on all sides there have been cries for a dictator, a Cromwell, to take charge in the White House and press the war to its conclusion, there has been all along just such an absolute dictator by whose will alone the war has been continued, and everyone has thought he was a country bumpkin, a teller of funny stories, weak and of no account.

I can never read that story without a shiver running down into my stomach, because Vidal has captured the essence of Lincoln, a man who cared nothing for himself or his reputation or what others thought of him, but only for the preservation of the Union, even though he suspected it would kill him.

3 people found this helpful

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Favourite book of all time

The heaviness that President Lincoln lived through is palpable. Like many greats (Van Gogh, Trump) he was not fully appreciated during his life. Performance by Gardner the narrator is impeccable. His voice for the chicken-like Mr. Henderson is hilarious and had me cracking up whenever that character appeared (the name escapes me, but you’ll know when you hear)

3 people found this helpful

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a masterpiece

This is a great listen. Although it's long, it's worth every minute. Great story and great narration.

3 people found this helpful

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Outstanding

Exceptional historical fiction account of not only Lincoln but most of the characters involved in the Civil War. Made you feel as if you were sitting in the room with them. Well performed. Highly reccomend.

2 people found this helpful

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Wonderful !

Gore Vidal is one of America's great writers and this is one of his best. The narrator is animated and does very well changing voices to suit each character.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-12-20

Fascinating

I absolutely loved every minute of it! gore Vidal is a genius of the historical novel.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 02-03-22

Neglected masterpiece

Nitpicking in the 80s led to this book being undervalued; readers know historical novels are novel but nonetheless Lincoln gives an authentic sense of the era and events it describes.