June 15, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Last Empire

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Gore Vidal
genre
Nonfiction
We gave it an A

Gore Vidal is an inveterate name-dropper, but what impressive names he has to work with. Clare Booth Luce, William Faulkner, Cary Grant, JFK and Jackie, and his cousin Al Gore are just a few of the acquaintances who appear in this collection of essays, all written between 1992 and 2000. A coda to the massive, indispensable collection United States, which won a National Book Award, Last Empire concentrates on politics, and Vidal makes explicit his aim to ”cause a degree of outrage if not, as I would hope, rage.” Vidal provokes critical thinking about the ramifications of the American empire while shaming his reader into a trip to the library to keep pace with his lifetime of prodigious reading. Just watch Sinclair Lewis’ Amazon ranking inexplicably rise.

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