United States: Essays 1952-1992

United States: Essays 1952-1992

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by Gore Vidal
     
 

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From the age of Eisenhower to the dawning of the Clinton era, Gore Vidal’s United States offers an incomparably rich tapestry of American intellectual and political life in a tumultuous period. It also provides the best, most sustained exposure possible to the most wide-ranging, acute, and original literary intelligence of the postWorld War…  See more details below

Overview

From the age of Eisenhower to the dawning of the Clinton era, Gore Vidal’s United States offers an incomparably rich tapestry of American intellectual and political life in a tumultuous period. It also provides the best, most sustained exposure possible to the most wide-ranging, acute, and original literary intelligence of the postWorld War II years. United States is an essential book in the canon of twentieth-century American literature and an endlessly fascinating work.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This mammoth omnibus of 114 essays is vintage Vidal, a marvelous compendium of sharp wit and independent judgment that confirms his status as a man of letters. The prolific novelist/critic offers withering putdowns of the French ``new novel,'' billionaire Howard Hughes and bestseller lists. He displays a reporter's hard nose for facts in travel pieces on Nasser's Egypt and Mongolia. He pens definitive portraits of H. L. Mencken, Oscar Wilde, Anthony Burgess, L. Frank Baum. He reminisces on his boyhood friendship with Amelia Earhart, who, we learn, was in love with Vidal's father, Eugene, FDR's director of commercial aviation. Mingling patrician impulses and egalitarian, subversive sentiments, Vidal takes unfashionable stances, as when he urges the legalization of drugs or ending military aid to the Middle East, including Israel. His sense of the United States as hub of an overextended empire informs pieces on ``American sissy'' Theodore Roosevelt, JFK, CIA spook E. Howard Hunt and the bloated military budget. (June)
Library Journal - Library Journal
This hefty volume will need strong binding: it contains 114 essays and over 1300 pages of Vidal's barbed opinions, articulate insights, intellectual observations, and more ``correctionist'' opinions. These pieces represent two-thirds of the essays Vidal has published over 40 years and fall into three categories: literary, political, and personal. Why the other one-third was omitted or why these particular ones were gathered at this time is not clear. If the aim is a ``complete works,'' then why not include the other third and divide them into three physical volumes with proper editing? Such a collection would be worthwhile. Because Vidal's essays are always provocative, full of interesting facts, and have the immediacy of a conversation, this collection might be of interest to both public and academic libraries. Libraries on a tight budget can remember that the essays have appeared previously in such publications as the New York Review of Books .-- Nancy Shires, East Carolina Univ., Greenville, N.C.
Brad Hooper
Hey, look, no one has ever accused Gore Vidal of being closemouthed, either in person or in print! And neither would he make such a claim for himself. To wit, his collected essays is a bigger collection than most writers who spend most of their time just essay writing could manage in a lifetime. (Remember, Vidal also has behind him an impressive list of novels.) These oh-so-many and oh-so-comely-yet-meaty essays span Vidal's writing life, falling into three sections: literature (both whom he likes and doesn't like), politics (ranging from pornography to Lincoln), and personal concerns (his own past and tastes, his involvement in the movies, etc.). What's wonderful about Vidal as essayist is not only his erudition but also his appreciation of aesthetic and behavioral standards while at the same time remaining open-minded about variations on those standards. No one is going to sit down and read this compilation straight through, but returning to it over a period of time will be thrilling for anyone interested in language and ideas.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679414896
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/18/1993
Pages:
1295
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.55(h) x 2.52(d)

Meet the Author

Gore Vidal is the author of twenty-two novels, five plays, many screenplays and short stories, more than two hundred essays, and a memoir. His most recent novel is The Golden Age, and his new essay collection, The Last Empire: Essays 1993?2000, has just been published.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
La Rondinaia, a villa in Ravello, Italy; and Los Angeles, California
Date of Birth:
October 3, 1925
Place of Birth:
West Point, New York
Education:
Attended St. Albans. Graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy, 1943. No college.

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United States: Essays 1952-1992 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Ronald_Beasley More than 1 year ago
Gore Vidal was the only postwar writer capable of teasing out American insecurities about its place in the world from almost every subject. It would be enough to make him a great writer if he had 'simply' written about art, or politics, or the great people he had known, but in this collection it's all three and then some. If you've read the product description or any of Vidal's essays, you won't need me to tell you how diverse his topics of interest are, or how well-versed he is in writing about all of them. This is a canon of Vidal's essays if there will ever be one, and it wisely ends before the 21st century, when the great man was clearly in decline. These aren't essays like you'll read in some online rags today. They are long, thoughtful pieces, each referencing many facets of life and Americana. Multiple political party conventions are analyzed. Monotheism meets its unmaker. His contemporaries are, of course, turned inside out and occasionally chewed up and tossed away like a pet's toy. Vidal has the almost enviable gift of writing about anything for an indefinite length of time. These essays will take longer to read than today's ten minute, single topic simple screeds, and in most cases they must be read several times just to pick up threads that were missed earlier when your hands were already full. Vidal has recently left us, but the dense yet enjoyable scribblings of this 20th century master will continue to inspire those few brave 21st century Americans who dare to tackle this brick.