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Inventing a Nation: Washington, Adams, Jefferson

by Gore Vidal

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55. Inventing a Nation: Washington, Adams and Jefferson (Audio Book) by Gore Vidal, narrated by Paul Hecht (2003, 208 pages in paper form, listened Oct 29 - Nov 4)

Discursive musings is probably enough of a description. Vidal brings in many curious details. Being who he is, it seems Vidal was simply drawn not to the three icons of his title but to the person he seems to have considered the smartest in room, so so speak. Alexander Hamilton, the main author of the Federalist Papers, somehow crops of everywhere, good and bad. Overall these are entertaining wanderings and there is just something fascinating in any random pieces spoken and written by the characters from this era.

One touching aspect was listening to Gore Vidal, in his own voice, discuss an interview he had with then president John F. Kennedy. Kennedy wondered how nascent America could be full of such a rich array of brilliant minds, something so much richer than his impression of the people he had to deal with. He said they were somehow better then. Vidal couldn't really answer, and claims this book is his reply.

Also posted on my LT thread here: http://www.librarything.com/topic/160515#4393489 ( )
  dchaikin | Dec 5, 2013 |
If you enjoy your history with a partisan flavor and a good dose of skepticism, you will immensely enjoy Inventing A Nation, Gore Vidal's romp through early American history. Gore begins with 1786 as Washington prepares to lead the constitutional convention.

It's refreshing to go beyond the glowing myths we are fed in high school and see the great men with all their foibles, flaws that somehow make them even a little greater in my estimation. There was a lot of groping going on to find just the right mix. Democracy did not have much in the way of precedence. After the Athenian defeat by Alexander, there was really no democratic example to follow.

Ours is certainly not a democracy in the Athenian sense as Gore, in his inimitable manner makes clear: "Much of the significance of December 2000 was that the Electoral College, created to ensure that majority rule be thwarted if unacceptable to what Hamilton thought of as the proper governing elite, threw a bright spotlight on just how undemocratic our republic has become, causing one of the Supreme Court Justices (by many thought to be a visiting alien) to respond to the Gore lawyers who maintained that Florida's skewed voting machines and confused rulings by various interested courts had deprived thousands of Floridians of their vote for president. The American Constitution, said the Justice, mandibles clattering joyously, does not provide any American citizen the right to vote for president. This is absolutely true. One votes for a near-anonymous member of the Electoral College, which explains why so few Americans now bother to 'vote' for president. But then a majority don't know what the Electoral College is."

That's classic. ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
This is the first time I have read any of Gore Vidal's works; I find his style interesting and easy to read. A blue-collar nobleman of sorts, conveying a haughty vocabulary of a refined gentleman, yet peppered with a common man's bluntness and disdain for the aristocrat.

While he doesn't front the enmity of say a Franken writing about a Limbaugh or a Coulter discussing the Left, Gore holds no opinion to himself when dissecting politics of the past. It would appear the only man of America's founding he has nary a duplicitous view of is Benjamin Franklin.

After the first chapter, Vidal Gore begins stippling juxtaposition between then and now. When writing about the birth of our nation in comparison to today, he seems to be lightheartedly cynical about the past; letting bygones be just what they are. Yet when evaluating events of the foundling government, getting along as it was being invented and retooled, he takes a jaundiced eye, injecting all his modern day sardonicism and taking long dead men to task. Hindsight is 20/20 and documentation and private letters provide a balcony seat to the double dealings and personal afflictions which complicate a burgeoning republic.

This book is indexed but not referenced. I would find it very interesting to learn where Gore Vidal gets his evidence that Alexander Hamilton was a pseudo-double agent, or as he refers to him repeatedly: British Agent Number Seven.

Over all, I found it a fun book to read and simply rolled my eyes at the author's bipolar-like love/hate infatuation with the men who gave birth through invention to the best country in the world. ( )
1 vote HistReader | Mar 9, 2012 |
I just finished reading Vidal's homage to three of the Founding Fathers of our nation. It is a well-researched, anecdote-rich expression of curiosity and admiration by one of our leading political writers. IT is very accessible, short and succinct. A treasure! ( )
  ssfletch | Oct 17, 2010 |
If you've read any biographies of the 1st three presidents, this book will actually be boring, unless you are a great fan of Gore Vidal's snarky 'insights.' I didn't learn anything new, and found myself constantly asking "What's the point?"

A quick read for those who want only an overview of these three founders, and who don't mind editorial comments mixed in with their 'history.' ( )
1 vote tututhefirst | Oct 10, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0300101716, Hardcover)

Gore Vidal, one of the master stylists of American literature and an acute observer of American life and history, turns his literary and historiographic talent to a portrait of the formidable trio of George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. In "Inventing a Nation", Vidal transports the reader into the minds, the living rooms (and bedrooms), the convention halls and the salons of Washington, Jefferson, Adams and others. We come to know these men, their opinions of each other, their worries about money and their concerns about creating a viable democracy.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:12 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Portraits the formidable trio of George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. Readers are transported by the author into the minds, the living rooms (and bedrooms), the convention halls, and the salons of Washington, Adams, Jefferson and other key figures who helped found the American Republic.… (more)

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Audible.com

3 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Yale University Press

2 editions of this book were published by Yale University Press.

Editions: 0300101716, 0300105924

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