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Washington, D.C: A Novel (Narratives of Empire). Paperback – August 1, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1st Vintage International ed edition (August 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375708774
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375708770
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #132,174 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A superb story. . . . Vidal's people are per-suasive, and he handles the interplay of per-sonality and power with rare skill. . . . Fascinating."
--John Kenneth Galbraith

"        Vidal is the best political novelist since Disraeli. . . . [His] highly polished prose style, in part the fruit of his classical training, is a constant delight. One might even go so far as to call him a modern La Rochefoucauld."
--Louis Auchincloss

"        Washington to Vidal is like some Jacobean court, a city where even the smallest movement is in-teresting and dangerous, and where strokes and suicide have taken the place of poison."
--Times Literary Supplement


Also available from the Modern Library:
Burr  ¸  Lincoln  ¸  1876  ¸
Empire  ¸  Hollywood

From the Inside Flap

With a New Introduction

Washington, D.C., is the final installment in Gore Vidal's Narratives of Empire,his acclaimed six-volume series of historical novels about the American past. It offers an illuminating portrait of our republic from the time of the New Deal to the McCar-thy era.

Widely regarded as Vidal's ultimate comment on how the American political system degrades those who participate in it, Washington, D.C. is a stunning tale of corruption and diseased ambitions. It traces the fortunes of James Burden Day, a powerful conservative senator who is eyeing the presidency; Clay Overbury, a pragmatic young congressional aide with political aspirations of his own; and Blaise Sanford, a ruthless newspaper tycoon who understands the importance of money and image in modern politics. With characteristic wit and insight, Vidal chronicles life in the nation's capital at a time when these men and others transformed America into "possibly the last empire on earth."

"Washington, D.C. may well be the finest of contemporary novels about the capital," said The New Yorker, and the Times Literary Supplement deemed it "a prodigiously skilled and clever performance."

From the Hardcover edition.


More About the Author

Gore Vidal has received the National Book Award, written numerous novels, short stories, plays and essays. He has been a political activist and as Democratic candidate for Congress from upstate New York, he received the most votes of any Democrat in a half-century.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 15, 1999
Format: Hardcover
A vividly accurate portrayal of what people will do to further their (political) careers and to get ahead in life. Although the book takes place mainly in the 40's, you can make a case where it is still relevent in today's society. The character development is good and you find yourself cheering for no one but sympathizing with most. This is the first Vidal book I have read and I look forward to exploring more in his series.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A. Phillips on January 2, 2003
Format: Paperback
Apparently others disagree, but I thought this was the best novel in Vidal's American Chronicle series. It's also the best one to start with if you haven't read any others in the series, although it's near the end chronologically. I feel that it provides a good background for the other books, making it easier to understand and get into them.
Washington, DC will also stand alone as a great political novel. I'm not generally a fan of historical fiction, but I love Vidal, and this book is one of his best.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Robert J. Crawford on April 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
but very very fun nonetheless. Vidal takes us into the mediacracy age of politics, that transition point when TV personality was beginning to trump backroom dealing as the principal factor in national politics. Clay, the protagonist, is so Kenndyesque that it is painful to behold. The backdrop of eroticism in politics is also wonderfully portrayed, as are other human qualities and frailties. For example, when he writes of a Senator consulting a fortuneteller, you can almost forgive a certain first lady for consulting an astrologer: it is scary to make decisions.
This is interesting as Vidal hadn't quite gotten the tone of his American series yet, but clearly it was gestating in him. He is one of the best American writers of this century, underrated in my opinion.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Okla Elliott on November 6, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Gore Vidal is one of America's most erudite and imaginative historical and political thinkers. He also happens to be one the most intelligent, witty, and capable literary craftsmen this country has ever produced.
In Washington, D. C., Vidal has created a novel that is simultaneously informative and entertaining. The story takes place between the 1930s (FDR era) and WWII. For anyone interested in that historical period, this book will be a fascinating read. The amazing thing is, however, that even if you're not interested in that historical period, you'll enjoy the satirical nuances of the book. Also, Vidal draws his characters with such authenticity that you'll get lost in the interpersonal relationships and forget the historical backdrop.
A vague outline of the novel is as follows: Senator Day twarts FDR's attempt to pack the Supreme Court; he then gets involved in an attempt to be elected president; while all this is happening his daughter's ex-fiance Clay Overbury (who is also Senator Day's aide) marries another woman whose father is extremely rich; and the political intrigue and madness ensue.
This, and all of Vidal's American Chronicle series, should be required reading for every American citizen.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Spk on April 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
I read Gore Vidal's Lincoln prior to reading this one. While I found the former enthralling and a towering accomplishment, Vidal's Washington DC is mediocre at best. Some of the techniques that Vidal came to perfect in Lincoln can be seen here - but the book is loosely written and gives frustratingly small glimpses of President Roosevelt; but not enough to give the novel real weight.
In Lincoln, the author unerringly zeroes in on Lincoln and the context of the times and all the other characters are presented in detail and in contrast.
Here, the Democratic Senator Day and his protege, a Kennedyesque, Clay Overbrook are presented as the protagonists and Roosevelt is kept in the background. This angle does not work and too much time is spent on sexual shennanigans and other sundry episodes to give the book any genuine thrust (so-to-speak).
Neverthless, Gore Vidal has an excellent writing style, and the book ends up being readable - I finished it two sittings.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Krykie VINE VOICE on February 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book kept my interest from start to finish. It is written on an adult level, reminiscent of an era when DC was still mysterious.

I'm a resident of DC, and this book reminds me of the Jimmy Stewart movie "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" not for the story line, but because even though this story was set decades ago, written decades ago, it could have been written today. DC absolutely never changes.

Read this book for a higher-level "West Wing" from the congressional side. Drugs, sex, affairs, power -- its all in there.

I recommend this book on the inside of DC -- and it is enjoyable for all -- Democrats and Republicans aren't mentioned, so it doesn't matter your party!

Enjoy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
Gore Vidal has written a very vivid and engaging novel about the intrigues and power plays ongoing in our nation's capital. His dialogue is pitch perfect, his characters are duplicitously clever, and his descriptions of the nation's capitol are lush. Though dissimilar in style to, and ultimately not as fine a work as, the anachronistically written 'Burr' or 'Lincoln', 'Washington, D.C.' still stands, along with Henry Adams' 'Democracy', as the gold standard work about the political animals on America's grand stage of government. It is a great, worthwhile read.
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