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Gore Vidal: Snapshots in History's Glare Hardcover – October 1, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Gore Vidal is the author of 25 novels, well over 200 essays, six plays, and not-even-he-knows how many television and movie scripts. He lives in California.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams; First Edition edition (October 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810950499
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810950498
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 1 x 10.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #885,593 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Faulk on October 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
. . . this picture book sans pareil from Abrams' exceptional creative team, who knew that Gore Vidal demanded, and deserved, nothing but the best.

Vidal says in the preface: "During the fifty-four years that Howard Russell Auster and I shared a life, he took a great many photographs...to eventually mak(e) his own book. Upon his death...he left me his photographs and papers...(A)s a memorial to him, I am now publishing them, with more notes describing the various occasions that we took part in, as well as a number of pictures from my life and times, now becoming, with time's passage, literally historic."

All the text is written by Vidal in his polished style, and kept succinct so we can see all 360 pictures, black & white and full color, before closing time. He begins with the maternal family album headed by his grandfather, blind Senator Gore, and spiced by Gore's mother-to-be, Nina. Pass on to his handsome aviator dad, who served under FDR. There are no baby pictures, and we first see Gore at 3 or 4. Apparently he was blondish in his youth, went to name schools, and at 18 with WWII upon us, went into the army. While in the hospital for a knee injury, he began Williwaw, his first published novel (1946).

Free to roam at last, he has snapshots with dancers John Kriza and Harold Lang, Marlon Brando, Tennessee Williams, Truan Capote, Tanaquil Le Clerq. He meets Howard Auster of Jewish lineage, who respells it Austen as he seeks work. Howard and Gore click for the next half century.

The pair go to Hollywood: Ben Hur and so on. Gore quickly sours on the movie industry, but meets the Paul Newmans, who are often subjects in the photos thereafter. Veering into politics, Gore joins in photos with John Kennedy.
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Format: Hardcover
Gore Vidal is so close to the end he can see the white light. And his legendary intellect has failed him; his opinions now are violent broadsides, his voice the impotent rage of a seer whose vision is darkening. But just look at the cover picture of 'Snapshots in History's Glare' --- my Lord, in his youth, he was stunning.

In the 54 years of their domestic partnership, Howard Auster took thousands of photos of Gore Vidal and their friends. After his death, Vidal chose 360 pictures and graced them with a running commentary on those people and their times. Finished before his acuity failed him, "Snapshots" is his last real book.

It's fun to look at Tennessee Williams in Key West; Mick Jagger and Andy Warhol in Italy; Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman over six decades; campaign shots of John F. Kennedy stumping for Vidal when the writer ran for Congress in 1960, and more more more.
The prose that surrounds those pictures provides just as much fun; it's a riveting account of Vidal's love/hate relationship with America, our politics and our public figures. He names names, nurses grudges and doles out great dish --- this is vintage Gore. And that can be as strong as a double shot of single malt.

In these pages, he starts at the beginning, with childhood villains. Forget his distinguished lineage. Consider his "incorrigible" mother, a sometime actress who "failed a Paramount screen test because of the prominence of her manly moustache." Did you know that Eleanor Roosevelt had a mad Sapphic crush on Amelia Earhart and was "constantly proposing" that they fly around the country, "with Amelia at the controls"?
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Format: Hardcover
When you mention Gore Vidal, what comes to mind? A novelist? Essayist? Playwright? A Politician? Commentator? Screenwriter? A Raconteur? A Socialite...?

Of course, the right answer is `all of the above.' In fact, it might be argued that Gore Vidal is America's ultimate renaissance man. Certainly, his latest book, `Snapshots in History's Glare' does nothing to dispel this notion.

From his early days growing up in a political family in Virginia, his days at boys school, his associations with writers like Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams, the political years with Harry Truman, Eleanor Roosevelt, as a confidante of the Kennedys as well as his own political ambitions, to the intoxicating highlife of the movie and showbiz worlds, Vidal has enjoyed a life like few others.

This book, which could alternately be described as a scrapbook, an annotated photo album or perhaps even a visual memoir, is an amazing collection of every phase of Vidal's life from Virginia to New York, to Hollywood (twice) to his many years along the Amalfi coast. Anchored by photographs and mementos saved by his long time companion, Howard Russell Auster (whose death was the inspiration for this book), Vidal has assembled a completist's collection of everything from early handwritten notes from political figures, to Hollywood letters, to an impressive collection of photographs of the rich and famous and even pictures of most of his movie posters and his many, many book covers. (Including when as the bete noire of the New York Times book editor, he was forced to adopt the nome-de-plume, Edgar Box!
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