Lincoln: A Novel (The American Chronicle Series)

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9780375708763: Lincoln: A Novel (The American Chronicle Series)

Gore Vidal's Narratives of Empire series spans the history of the United States from the Revolution to the post-World War II years. With their broad canvas and large cast of fictional and historical characters, the novels in this series present a panorama of the American political and imperial experience as interpreted by one of its most worldly, knowing, and ironic observers.

To most Americans, Abraham Lincoln is a monolithic figure, the Great Emancipator and Savior of the Union, beloved by all. In Gore Vidal's Lincoln we meet Lincoln the man and Lincoln the political animal, the president who entered a besieged capital where most of the population supported the South and where even those favoring the Union had serious doubts that the man from Illinois could save it. Far from steadfast in his abhorrence of slavery, Lincoln agonizes over the best course of action and comes to his great decision only when all else seems to fail. As the Civil War ravages his nation, Lincoln must face deep personal turmoil, the loss of his dearest son, and the harangues of a wife seen as a traitor for her Southern connections. Brilliantly conceived, masterfully executed, Gore Vidal's Lincoln allows the man to breathe again.

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Lincoln is a masterwork of historical fiction, in which Gore Vidal combines a comprehensive knowledge of Civil War America with 20th-century literary technique, probing the minds and motives of the men surrounding Abraham Lincoln, including personal secretary John Hay and scheming cabinet members William Seward and Salmon P. Chase, as well as his wife, Mary Todd. It is a book monumental in scope that never loses sight of the intimate and personal in its depiction of the power struggles that accompanied Lincoln's efforts to preserve the Union at all costs--efforts in which the eradication of slavery was far from the president's main objective. As usual, there's plenty of room for Vidal's wickedly humorous deflation of American icons, including a comic interlude in a Washington bordello in which Lincoln's former law partner informs Hay that Lincoln had contracted syphilis as a young man and had, just before marrying Mary Todd, suffered what can only be described as a nervous breakdown. (Protestors should note that Vidal is only passing along what that former partner had written in his own biography of Lincoln.) Don't be intimidated by the size of Lincoln; if you like historical fiction, you should read this book at the first opportunity. --Ron Hogan

From the Back Cover:

"Superb . . . a grand entertainment. . . . A plausible and human Lincoln, of us and yet beyond us." --Harold Bloom

"A portrait of America's great president that is at once intimate and public, stark and complex, and that will become for future generations the living Lincoln, the definitive Lincoln. . . . Richly entertaining . . . history lessons with the blood still hot." --The Washington Post

"[Lincoln] is in Vidal's version at once more complex, mysterious and enigmatic, more implacably courageous and, finally, more tragic than the conventional images, the marble man of the memorial. He is honored in the book." --Chicago Tribune

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