Lincoln

Lincoln

by Gore Vidal

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Overview

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375708763
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/28/2000
Series: Vintage International Series
Pages: 672
Sales rank: 147,823
Product dimensions: 5.16(w) x 8.02(h) x 1.23(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Gore Vidal (1925–2012) was born at the United States Military Academy at West Point. His first novel, Williwaw, written when he was 19 years old and serving in the army, appeared in the spring of 1946. He wrote 23 novels, five plays, many screenplays, short stories, well over 200 essays, and a memoir.

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.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"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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Lincoln 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 37 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In my opinion, this is the most accurate depiction of Lincoln, the man. Lincoln was truly one of the greatest Presidents America has ever had, besides Washington, and FDR.. No one has ever used the power of the presidency, like Lincoln, before or since his time. He keep the union together by means that were viewed as controversial, border line dictatorial in nature. Lincoln truly was a gifted insightful man, who drew strength from opposition, with a fortitude to face any challenge. Lincoln had a meek strenght that was not understood until after his death..
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have to confess that when I purchased this book I didn't realize it was historical fiction. Nonetheless, this book delivers a unique view of the challenges that Lincoln's presidency faced and blows up stereotypes of the man. Once immersed, I couldn't help but wonder how much was based on historical fact and how much was conjecture on Gore Vidal's part. I longed for footnotes despite Vidal's assertion that "All of the principal characters really existed, and they said and did pretty much what I have them saying and doing..." Gore Vidal delivers a flesh and blood portrait of Lincoln in a way that a dry, biographical tome cannot.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The research for this book is incredible. I've read this book ten years ago. I still enjoy reading this book still after ten years. This is an absolute incredible book.I promise you will injoy reading this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a remarkably palatable alternative to the standard biographies one often trudges through. Thanks to historical sources, along with Gore Vidal's creativity, Lincoln is placed squarely in his own time period, where he is judged based on the norms of those days. At times, I found myself shocked that I was reading about the man on the bill in my wallet, but that starkness and realism is just the reason the 'real' Lincoln becomes much more accessible in this novel. I went from idolizing Lincoln, to being disappointed that he fell short of legend, and finally to idolizing him again.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I first received this book from my mother as a Christmas gift back in 1984, when I was 15. I have read it 3 times since then, and still love it. This book shows Lincoln in all his humanity and greatness from dealing with his crazy wife Mary, to fending off political rivals such as Salmon Chase, and evolving from a committment to hold the union together to one ending slavery as well. An excellent compliment to David Donald's book on Lincoln
Holz More than 1 year ago
While Vidal's "Lincoln" is a novel, it is excellent history that complements Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals" with a fascinating account of Lincoln's mastery in leading his Cabinet as well as the Nation as the Union was preserved. This is the best of the Gore Vidal historical novels.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Generally, I prefer my history in non-fictional form. However I have read Gore Vidal's take on Lincoln's war years twice now. To me, it is a tremendously enjoyable portrayal of Lincoln from a human perspective. I've also read various other nonfiction treatments, such as Carl Sandburg. Vidal's 'Lincoln' is fascinating because like most fine historical fiction, it brings the character to life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had mixed feelings about the book. I think it's very difficult to write a book about a man who is almost mythical (not a great word) to many Americans, and make him 'real.' I think we like to idealize him, make believe that he didn't have ordinary conversations, spoke to his wife playfully--in essence, do the things that everyone else does. I think Vidal had a good purpose, and I think it probably came across well (though I didn't get far in the book), but I couldn't get over my own ideas of Lincoln the President, the Emancipator, the War Leader, and Hero of the (then) Republican party. Having been a history major, I think I prefer to look at Lincoln through his own words.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A bit cynical, but fascinating.
dherrick52 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
By novelizing his biography of Lincoln, Gove Vidal allows us to get a sense of Lincoln's genius for politics, his sense of humor, and how he interacted with his cabinet, the Congress, and the American people to lead during the Civil War.
BobNolin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Kind of disappointing. This is the first book of Vidal's (that I've read) that didn't seem to have a political agenda, or vendetta, unless you consider presenting Lincoln as a human being with faults to be a radical statement. Uses the points of view of Chase, Seward, mostly, some of Mary Todd Lincoln, and David Herold, a Rebel sympathizer. It's really not a Lincoln biography (of his Presidency) in novel form. Instead, it's a novel showing the relationships of the POV characters to Lincoln. It's very gossipy. The "camera" moves from one room to another, showing a group or pair of people discussing things, gossiping, planning, conniving. There's not enough background information. If you don't know what the Soldier's Home is, you won't learn it here, and you'll wonder why Lincoln is spending time there (it was the Summer White House). You'll enjoy the book more if you've read up on the Civil War first. But as for learning about who the Great Man was really, I was disappointed. Why did he decide that the South could not secede? As John Hay states at the book's end, they had every right to, Constitutionally. Why did he decide to release the Emancipation Proclamation (freeing slaves in the seceded states)? What was his goal? Not really explained. From what I've read, "Team of Rivals" takes the same approach this book did. I might find it more satisfying, at least as far as getting answers. Vidal's Lincoln was an easy read, but not very satisfying. One final complaint: often the scene switches to another setting or weeks later, and there is nothing to indicate it: no line or double space break. Just a paragraph break. This made the book confusing at times.
hugh_ashton on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Re-reading this book. I have to confess that I like certain tricks of Vidal's style so much that I borrow them without attribution. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, they say, and I happen to think that on a good day, Vidal writes well and economically and is worth attempting to imitate.Subject matter - I have read several books on Lincoln and his cabinet members, and Vidal's is the only one, even though it's a novel, that makes political and psychological sense of this rather complex man and his times. Maybe it will annoy the hagiographers, who want to make Lincoln out as some kind of backwoods saint, but it's not disrespectful, either.
tnelson217 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I'm on a Lincoln kick and I'm watching where it leads me. See my lists to see what I'm planning next. I started with Gore Vidal's Lincoln because it was one of the 300 books of Aunt Shazi's that I absorbed into my library during Fall 2008. I was enthralled with this book. It is one of the best historical fiction novels I have read. The author did his job . . . he drew me into this time and place and people in a way that history books have never done. This in turn has driven me to the history books . . . and the museums . . . and the battlefields. Vidal has sparked the yen to know more, and at the same time has nurtured this sense that I know these unkowable paragons of history. What more could the author of a historical novel hope to acheive?
jlcarroll on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Vidal makes Lincoln human: a politician by trade and a definitive leader by circumstance. An excellent read to mark the 200th anniversary of Old Abe's birth.
LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A flattering blurb on the cover from Harold Bloom and one inside from Joyce Carol Oates certainly underlines this is a serious book; it's also an engaging and entertaining one, one that portrays the personalities and political machinations during the Civil War. Lincoln isn't just a celebrated American president, one considered one of the greatest in our history, he's still polarizing and controversial on both sides of the political divide. He's accused of trampling on rights from that of states to leave the union to individual rights such as due process of law. Vidal doesn't gloss over any of that. He depicts the Lincoln administration's suspension of habeas corpus, shutting down of opposing newspapers, institution of the draft and fiat money and Lincoln's scheme to remove freed slaves to a foreign colony. Vidal, though, does put all that ugliness in the context of the desperate struggle to hold the country together. His Lincoln is cunning, ambitious, driven, obsessed with holding the union together no matter what the personal or national cost and a master politician. The book's first part conveys just how precarious things were for Lincoln and the nation from the initial days of secession when he as President-elect had to sneak into Washington, a capitol surrounded on all sides by slave states on the brink of joining the conflict. The second part takes us from just after the first battle of Bull Run through Lincoln's attempts to find a general who'll energetically prosecute the war, the Emancipation Proclamation and Gettysburg. In the final Part Lincoln finds his general in Ulysses S. Grant and his destiny at Ford's Theater. The story is told through various perspectives--though never Lincoln's. We mostly follow the perspectives of two cabinet level secretaries with presidential ambitions, the imperialist Seward and abolitionist Chase, and two young men with opposing loyalties, John Hay, one of Lincoln's personal secretaries, and David Herold, drawn into the conspiracy to assassinate Lincoln. I read this novel having recently read The Killer Angels, an excellent novelization of the Battle of Gettysburg. This made a wonderful compliment, giving me a view of the entire war centering upon Abraham Lincoln. Serious as the book is, it takes a satirical view at times of its characters (and a cynical view of politics), and one of the more humorous scenes is when Samuel Chase meets with job-seeking Walt Whitman. The book has an exuberance in the gossipy way it presents the various ambitious quirky personalities that keeps the story from being depressing despite the tragic events it treats, from national to personal. The picture of the troubled and troublesome First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln, unstable from the beginning and further unhinged by her son's death, is particularly vivid and poignant. The novel is a fascinating portrait of a complex man and his presidency.
Borg-mx5 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An excellent book, continuing in his series of historical fiction. Vidal mixes real and fictional characters seamlessly and adds anecdotal characterizations which make the characters all the more interesting.
name99 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I listened to an abrreviated audiobook version of this, not out of choice but because it was all the library had. It may be that this was unfair to the novel, that what makes it a joy are the details an abbreviation omits. Be that as it may, this abbreviation disappointed me. The material on what a loser Mary Todd Lincoln was was interesting, similarly for the material on how scandals were covered up in those days. But I expect I would have been happier with a good biography.
dougwood57 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Gore Vidal's 'Lincoln' immerses the reader in Civil War Washington with rich detail. Vidal introduces few fictional characters and hews close to the known historical record in brilliantly recreating actions and conversations. Lincoln emerges as a master political strategist who invites his chief adversaries into his Administration and then lulls them into thinking they and not he are the real powers. By the time Lincoln acheives near complete power, Chase and Seward are unsure just how it happened. By the end, this reader more pitied than despised Mary Todd Lincoln, but felt both emotions in full towards Lincoln's vicious and insane wife. Salmon Chase comes in for a richly deserved measure of disrepute with his incessant political ambitions. Lesser known characters such William Sprague and 'Chevalier' Henry Wikoff add color and dishonor. The examination of Lincoln's second secretary, John Hay, is fascinating and enlightening. Vidal inserts several rebels into the story, including a glory-hound named David Herold. These characters are real, but little is known about them and it shows. A reduced role for these characters would have mercifully shortened the extraordinary length of the book. Vidal controversially has Lincoln continuing to advocate the colonization of freed slaves right up until the day of his assassination. My understanding of the generally accepted view is that Lincoln had long since abadnoned colonization as a viable policy. Vidal's 'Lincoln' is historical fiction at its finest - entertaining and elucidating. Highly recommended.
estamm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really hated this book. Part of it was the extraordinarily confusing writing. Sometimes it is impossible to tell who is saying what. Scenes and times will shift almost within a sentence. (Well, after a paragraph, but there should have been a space before the next paragraph if not a new chapter to clearly indicate that THERE IS A MAJOR SCENE CHANGE.) For such a 'major' work, this was tremendously disappointing.
JBreedlove on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Considered part of the Western Canon by Harold Bloom. It is a well researched novel that gives an indepth portrait of Linoln and midninteenth centiry Washington D.C. during the American Civil War.
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I love Abe Linclon, he is one of my favorites. Read this book, stay free
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