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Hollywood by Gore Vidal
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Gore Vidal's Narrative of Empire series of historical novels is the work that will take him into history when all his other accomplishments are forgotten. Vidal brings historical personalities into his story like no one before him - not just celebrity walk-ons, but full-blooded characters in his narrative with emotions, motivations, thoughts, deeds and words as pertinent to the story as any of his fictional characters. In fact, Vidal's fictional characters - loosely, the familial progeny of Vice President Aaron Burr - are really just the framework on which the real historical characters sit and act. Vidal seeks to show how America has developed a political and ruling class every bit as imperial, privileged and elite as anything Ancient Rome or Victorian England came up with.

Hollywood covers the period from the mid-1910s to the mid-1920s and rather than focusing on the major events of this time (America's entry to the First World War, the League of Nations, Prohibition, etc.), although he does cover these and often in some detail, he chooses to zero in on the political details of how men become Presidents and then retain their power and how lesser men hang on to their coattails, scooping up whatever crumbs of power and money they can. Hollywood also shows how the new technology of the cinema was able to transform America from a loose group of disparate communities based on Old World nation states to become a united nation with a common set of values: a real concern was the possibility of a political or even civil reaction by German-based communities in America to joining the War on the Allies side, which was offset by Hollywood propaganda that brought these communities into an American outlook rather than an historical German one.

This is 'House of Cards' for the history set and is highly recommended. ( )
  pierthinker | Dec 7, 2015 |
I love Gore Vidal's historical novels, and especially this series focusing on an American family's involvement in key periods of history.

Henry Adams makes an appearance early on, and it seems that the magic of the first few books will continue, but it soon begins to fizzle. ( )
  scootm | Jul 12, 2008 |
For me this book seems rushed and crammed. I love Burr and Licoln, two portrayals that wil stay with me forever, but it seems as if Vidal was too concerned with the polemics and not enough with the delineation of believeable characters in his latter books in the series. ( )
  rcss67 | Jul 31, 2006 |
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Slowly, William Randolph Hearst lowered his vast bear-like body into a handsome Biedermeier chair, all scrolls and lyres and marquetry.
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Caroline suddenly realized that she - and everyone else - had been approaching this new game from the wrong direction. Movies were not there simply to reflect life or tell stories but to exist in their own autonomous way and to look, as it were, back at those who made them and watched them. They had used the movies successfully to demonize national enemies. Now why not use them to alter the viewer's perception of himself and the world?
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375708758, Paperback)

Who could possibly resist a novel that begins as William Randolph Hearst falls on his behind? The fifth novel in Gore Vidal's Narratives of Empire sequence (sixth, however, in order of publication) begins on the eve of American involvement in the First World War and ends shortly after the mysterious death of Warren G. Harding and ascension of the taciturn Calvin Coolidge to the presidency. Balanced against Gore's descriptions of all these political machinations is the story of newspaper publisher Caroline Sanford's foray into film acting, which places her in proximity to the scandals involving Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle and William Desmond Taylor. The cast of characters includes a young Franklin Delano Roosevelt--and his mistress, Lucy Mercer--and Vidal's maternal grandfather, Senator T.P. Gore. As always, the proceedings are enlivened by Vidal's caustic wit. --Ron Hogan

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:06 -0400)

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Follows the career of Caroline Sanford, a brilliant and beautiful newspaper publisher who leaves Washington to become a Hollywood producer and movie star.

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