Inventing a Nation: Washington, Adams, Jefferson

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Product Details
Yale University Press
Publish Date
5.5 X 8.1 X 0.6 inches | 0.45 pounds

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About the Author

Gore Vidal, novelist, essayist, and playwright, was one of America's great men of letters. His many books include United States: Essays 1951-1991 (winner of the National Book Award), Burr: A Novel, and Lincoln.

"[Vidal offers] details that enliven and . . . reflections on the past that point sharply to today." --Richard Eder, New York Times

"He has brought a novelist's gifts to history . . . and a graceful, wicked stiletto to the polemical public essay. Now, in Inventing a Nation, Gore Vidal swirls these talents together for a brief, idiosyncratic (of course) conversation about three American founders: Washington, Jefferson and Adams. . . . [Vidal] slips in reflections on the past that point sharply to today. . . . One of the most attractive aspects of Mr. Vidal's book is his novelist's skill with details that enliven and portray."--Richard Eder, New York Times

"An illusion-free and briskly entertaining take on America's Founding Fathers."--Pankaj Mishra, Times Literary Supplement, Books of the Year

"Vidal's wit occasionally comes across as facetiousness in his brilliant study of Washington, Adams and Jefferson, founding fathers of the Republic and its first three presidents."--Iain Finlayson, Times (UK)

"One of America's great men of letters animates the history of the early Republic and its first three presidents, interspersing his history with commentary on our present circumstances."--New York Times Book Review

"Vidal invites candid reappraisal of the achievements of the so-called Founding Fathers. His timing is splendid. . . . A fast-paced, highly entertaining political history."--T. H. Breen, Times Literary Supplement

"Vidal animates the staid history of the early American republic with vivid portraits of our first trio of presidents--Washington, Adams, and Jefferson. Along the way he points up the foibles and preoccupations of these first custodians of the great American experiment in democracy."--Washington Post Book World

"[Vidal] cannot bear to write or speak a dull sentence. . . . It is as though Vidal has us with him in easy chairs by the fireside, as he chats about familiar friends and the things they have done. . . . For anyone puzzled by our continuing attachment to what some dead white males did two centuries ago, Vidal's talk is an engaging answer, an unblinking view of our national heroes by one who cherishes them, warts and all. . . . Inventing a Nation is a cri de coeur from one who has seen the wolf and cried in vain."--Edmund S. Morgan, New York Review of Books

"A hot topic [is matched] with one of the master stylists of American letters. . . . This is pure Vidal."--Joseph J. Ellis, Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Trust Gore Vidal to teach us things we never learned in school. In Inventing a Nation, his quick wit flickers over the canonical tale of our republic's founding, turning it into a dark and deliciously nuanced comedy of men, manners, and ideas. Vidal reads our originary documents and the more private writings of their authors with a novelist's eye for the juicy personal rivalries and ambitions lurking beneath their principled surfaces. Ever the iconoclast, he pries our national gods, Washington and Jefferson and the querulous Yankee Adams, off the sanitized, Rushmore-ized monument we call American history, paradoxically enlarging them by making them human."--Amanda Heller, Boston Sunday Globe

"A brief, luminous and idiosyncratic book on the deeds and thoughts that forged the nation. . . . Lively in its portraits of the founding fathers."--Boyd Tonkin, The Independent

"Anyone with an interest in history will enjoy these glimpses of the characters involved in the making of the American nation, especially their trenchant views of each other."--Michael Sexton, Sydney Morning Herald

"By turns enchanting, persuasive, vexing. . . . No admirer of Vidal's would wish to miss this sparkling historical excursion, not least for it's moving description of Washington's death."--Ferdinand Mount, Sunday Times (UK)

A New York Times bestseller

A Los Angeles Times Book Review Bestseller

"Entertaining and enlightening. . . . A must for buffs of American civilization and its discontents."--Booklist

"Gore Vidal . . . understands American history backwards and forwards as few writers ever have."--National Public Radio

"A well-written, thought-provoking look at some of our founding fathers--always with appreciation."--Dennis Lythgoe, Deseret News (Salt Lake City)

"Vidal assumes . . . an insider's knowledge to present an intimate view of the founding of the American republic. . . . [He] assumes a conversational tone in describing the Founding Fathers and the complex political struggles of the 1790s. . . . His is a gossipy account not of marble figures on monuments but of flesh-and-blood human beings who engaged in personal and political battles."--Francis D. Cogliano, Journal of the Historical Association

"Vidal, master--inventor even--of the political entertainment genre make[s] for splendid reading."--Andrea Hoag, Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

"With a novelist's eye for character and the telling detail, Gore Vidal takes us on a brisk ride through early American history as seen through the eye of the Founders."--Justin Raimondo, American Conservative

"Inventing a Nation isa fine afternoon's read, especially if you like Vidal's acidulous writing style and his cranky political views. . . . Writing history is much more confining than writing historical fiction. Few writers can do one of them surpassingly well. Gore Vidal can do both. Inventing a Nation is a neat little book that should provoke in its readers a desire to learn more about the men whose images we see every day on our paper money but whom we rarely pause to consider, much less to thank."--Ross K. Baker, Times of Trenton (N.J.)

Selected as an outstanding book by University Press Books for Public and Secondary School Libraries

"Persuasive and very readable."--John Lukacs