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History is gossip,' says a protagonist in Washington, D.C., 'but the trick is determining which gossip is history.' It is a trick that Gore Vidal has mastered in his ongoing chronicle of that circus of opportunism and hypocrisy called American politics and which he plays with renewed vigour in this expose of the nation's capital.Young Clay Overbury, Senator Burden Day's assistant, has both a modest background and immense ambitions. Extremely handsome, oozing charm and seemingly dedicated to the Senator's cause, he is also duplicitous, conniving, and disloyal. But Enid Canford doesn't think so: she marries him, so providing the Sanford newspaper dynasty with a direct line to the Senator. Her father Blaise, at first loathing his son-in-law, later learns to love him - for all the wrong reasons. So begins this tale of lust and ambition set in the Republic's high noon. From the late 1930s to Jo McCarthy's reign of terror, Gore Vidal charts the seamy, sleazy side of Washington. Mixing sober history with nakedly Gothic melodrama, he provides an intoxicating cocktail of blackmail, betrayal, sexual ambivalence, lunacy and conspiracy - or, in a word, politics.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780349105277
ISBN-10: 0349105278
Format: Paperback
(130mm x 199mm x 28mm)
Pages: 416
Imprint: Abacus
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publish Date: 2-Apr-1994
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions


US Kirkus Review » Mr. Vidal is an experienced novelist (although with the exception of Julian never a widely successful one) and politician; it is surprising that he should appear to be so seemingly uninterested in what he is writing here - -a fairly well accessorized if rather listless novel about that small capital compound. The view is long rather than large - extending from 1937, the moment when F.D.R. failed with his Supreme Court bill, to some fifteen years later, and it deals primarily with the rise of the publicly opportunistic, privately promiscuous Clay Overbury, from administrative assistant of an entrenched conservative (Senator Burden Day) to Representative, and on. Unless Peter Sanford, younger son of Blaise Sanford, newspaper-owning, politician-controlling millionaire, can break him. In between there has been Enid, Peter's sister who married Overbury, and whose death can be equally attributable to her father and husband (homosexual implications in this relationship); Diana, the Senator's daughter, who drifts with Peter toward more liberal achievements; etc., etc. Vidal's Washington seems to be a world where nothing has much value and everything has a price: all of his characters, except perhaps Clay Overbury, seem some-what denatured, and Peter, his reluctant hero, a non-hero rather than anti-hero, assumes his moral and temporal obligations wearily. Reciprocally we. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Gore Vidal

Gore Vidal was at the centre of literary and intellectual life for half a century and wrote 'The Narratives of a Golden Age' series as well as countless bestsellers. He died on 31st July 2012.

Books By Author Gore Vidal

America First! by Gore Vidal

America First!

Paperback, October 2016
Thieves Fall Out by Gore Vidal

Thieves Fall Out

Paperback, April 2016
Buckley vs. Vidal by Gore Vidal

Buckley vs. Vidal

Paperback / softback, August 2015
Selected Speeches and Writings by Gore Vidal

Selected Speeches and Writings

Paperback / softback, October 2014