This novel tells the sometimes sedate, sometimes gossipy story of the intricacies and intrigues of Lincoln's White House, set against the backdrop of the Civil War that was being fought almost literally at the capital's door. This Lincoln is neither a country bumpkin rail-splitter nor a god, but a down-to-earth, canny political strategist with an unwavering belief in the Union.
It should have been absorbing reading, but most of the other characters were poorly defined, and the plot often wandered. Worse, I was dismayed at Vidal's awkward and clunky prose, stilted dialog, and scene transitions that were so often abrupt and confusing.
Historically accurate (I spent some time checking), a sympathetic but not a not entirely flattering account of Lincoln.
ISBN 034531221x - This is NOT a biography, it is historical fiction - an important distinction if you're looking for facts but not so important if you just want to read a good book. A very well-written book, and far more readable than the size of it might make you think, I found one problem running throughout the book - the lack of dates. Although Vidal periodically mentions a specific date, the lack of them makes for a somewhat odd effect: the war, and Lincoln's political career, seem to last a very short time.
That aside, a wonderfully different look at a Presidency that changed the U.S. forever. Despite the fact that Lincoln never intended to free the slaves, and having done so, didn't want them living in the same country as the white population, his role as hero has always detracted from his human-ness. This book gives that back to him, and to the reader.
Mary's rather loose grip on sanity is almost played for laughs at times, which is a little sad. Other than that, it's hard to find one true bad guy in the book - a reflection of real life that was nice to find in a book that, in the end, is a work of fiction. Unless you're willing to do a great deal of research to verify everything in it, I wouldn't read this as anything OTHER than a historical fiction.
When I first saw the length, I thought, I'll never read this book, but remembering how I was impressed by Burr, I picked it up just to see. Very well written, takes you from Lincoln's arrival at the White House in 1861 to his assassination in readable, fascinating fashion. Mr. Vidal even provides a note at the back on who is made up and who's not, and how he put it all together. If you love American history, put this on your bookshelf (and read it!).
I've read it about 7 times in 20 years, it inspired me to read other Lincoln biographies. I would say it's closer to a biography than a novel, from what I could tell from historical accounts, he doesn't make up too much. It's a not altogether flattering portrait of Lincoln (but which of Vidal's books is?). If you like reading the foibles of the beautiful people of the time, which is what Vidal seemingly is obsessed with, you will like this one.
This is the best biography of Lincoln that I have read!
great read if you like historical fiction!
Excellent read. Great for those who like historical fact-based fiction.
I loved this book. It told the story of Abe through the eyes of his male private secretary & friend. I'm not much for political books, but this book, although politics certainly had to be a part of it, was more about the man & the times. I really felt like I could finally conceive of Lincoln as a real person as the story shows us how he grieves over the loss of so many thousands of soldiers during the civil war, fights with generals, deals with a wife who is slowly going mad after the loss of a child & above all sticks to his guiding principle to try to do whatever is necessary to keep this country united.
I've read many of Vidal's historical novels. Some completely flopped, but several were just excellent historical fiction. Lincoln is his best IMHO. Vidal does a massive amount of research before writing HF & it really shows in Lincoln. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand Lincoln & the times he lived in better.
This is the second of Vidal's "Chronicles" series, after the amazing "Burr". "Lincoln" is an absolute epic of historical fiction. Full of Vidal's biting wit, this book provides the most complete portrait of the 16th president I've seen in any book, fiction or non-fiction. Should be required reading in for all high schoolers. They'll never think history is boring again.
Two boxed audio cassette tapes in cardboard box. Read by author, Gore Vidal.
I despise Gore Vidal's opinions and morals (political and sociological), but this is a great book.