Inventing A Nation
Inventing A Nation is Gore Vidal’s documentary of the first troubled years of America’s rise as a nation. Vidal is a recognized author historian, and former politician who has published numerous books on American history. His focus is on men like Washington, Hamilton, Adams, Jefferson, and other historical figures in American history, and they are the subject of many of Vidal’s other books and this one as well.
The book gives an in-depth look at the lives of three of the most important men in American history: George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. Also included, but not highlighted on the book’s cover, are Aaron Burr, Alexander Hamilton, George Mason, and a host of other lesser-known but equally influential men who played important roles in America’s early government. The book focuses on the events that threatened America’s survival during her infancy. The Barbary or Tripolitan War, the XYZ Affair, and the Napoleonic Wars are just a few of the crises that Vidal covers in the book. Other lesser-known incidents are also exposed: infighting over policy and offices, schemes to usurp control of the government, and plots to reshape America. Then Vidal goes a step further; he takes the reader into the houses, minds, and letters of the leaders of America to see their thoughts and reactions to these events firsthand. Vidal also includes quotations from the founders that are often cut out of other historical works today because of their dark implications, such as Benjamin Franklin’s gloomy prediction: “I believe that this government is likely to be well administered for a course of years and can only end in Despotism as other Forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need Despotic Government, being incapable of any other.” Inventing A Nation is an uncensored snapshot of a time of struggle in America to create a nation that would become a beacon of freedom.
My opinion of this book is that it is accurate, engaging, and interesting. Vidal is an excellent writer and an acknowledged authority on American history. This book reads more like a story that would be told sitting by the fire rather than a dry history of a nation. It may be easier for those that already have a knowledge of history and political philosophers to read this book and understand what Vidal is saying, but everything is explained clearly enough. One could pick up this book knowing nothing about America and put it down knowing a good deal of American history. If you find yourself wanting to know more history, or learn more about George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson, or if you even just want a good read, Inventing A Nation is a must-read.