Lincoln by Gore Vidal is fine historical fiction. Lincoln took to heart an old adage to “keep your friends close and your enemies closer”. Filling his cabinet with men who
opposed him bitterly, he was able to keep track of them while profiting from
being exposed to other viewpoints. David
Herbert Donald, a noted Lincoln scholar, checked the historical facts in the
book for Gore Vidal. By using journals, letters and historic records in this
work of fiction, Gore Vidal is able to blend fact with fiction to give us a
very clear look at a difficult period in American history and a remarkable
President. The book is full of
characters important in American History: John Hays, William Seward, Salmon
Chase, and many others. Vidal’s acerbic
wit keeps the story lively while staying true to Abraham Lincoln. If you prefer taking you history from Non
Fiction, read Team of
Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Both are great books, but I enjoy all the
devious, astringent prose packed into books by Gore Vidal.
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.
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.
"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