Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Inventing a Nation by Gore Vidal


The founding of the United States has been written about and studied superficially so many times throughout our educational careers that most of us think we know all there is to know about how our country came to be. However, research continues to unearth new facts leading to better understanding of the personalities and motivations of our founding fathers. These men are more icon than human, approaching a heroic status that elevates them above the mundane issues of day to day life.


In Inventing a Nation, Gore Vidal (himself something a literary icon) takes on these heroic figures and shows us a more human view. Yes, they were heroes, but they also had to pay their bills and put food on the table for their families. Vidal's great writing skill and perceptive intellect bring the icons into fully human form.


Unfortunately, while the individuals are wonderfully detailed, the book as a whole lacks structure. If this were a novel, I would say Vidal focuses on the characters and ignores the plot. In spite of the lack of continuity, this book is well worth reading for Vidal's wonderful use of language and the description of character.

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