Narratives of Empire

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The Narratives of Empire series is a heptalogy of historical novels by Gore Vidal. Published between 1967 and 2000, they chronicle the history of Vidal's "American Empire", from dawn to decay, by interweaving the private stories of two fictional American families with the public stories of historical personages. Although the seven novels were not published in order of historical chronology, they can be read in either historical or publication order without sacrificing narrative intelligibility. Vidal insisted on the title "Narratives of Empire" for the series, despite his publishers' preference for the safer, mainstream "American Chronicles".[1]

Order Title Story timeline Description Historical characters Fictional characters Published In order of publication
1 Burr 1775–1808, 1833–1836, 1840 Aaron Burr's narrative about the Founding Fathers chronicles the nation's beginnings Aaron Burr, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Dolley Madison, Davy Crockett, Martin Van Buren, Andrew Jackson, William Leggett, Helen Jewett, William Cullen Bryant, Samuel Swartwout, Edwin Forrest, Washington Irving Charlie Schuyler, Carolina de Traxler, William de la Touche Clancey 1973 Second
2 Lincoln 1861–1865, 1867 Abraham Lincoln's presidency and the disloyalties – internal and external – he overcame to save the Union Abraham Lincoln, John Hay, John Nicolay, Elihu Washburne, Mary Todd Lincoln, William Seward, Salmon P. Chase, David Herold, Mary Surratt, John Wilkes Booth, Kate Chase, William Sprague William Sanford, Charlie Schuyler, Emma Schuyler d'Agrigente, William de la Touche Clancey 1984 Fourth
3 1876 1875–1877 The 1876 presidential election and its aftermath, when candidate Samuel J. Tilden lost to Rutherford B. Hayes despite winning the popular vote Samuel J. Tilden, James G. Blaine, Roscoe Conkling, James A. Garfield, Mark Twain, James Gordon Bennett, Jr., Madame Restell, Ward McAllister Charlie Schuyler, Emma Schuyler d'Agrigente, John Day Apgar, William Sanford, Denise Delacroix Sanford, William de la Touche Clancey 1976 Third
4 Empire 1898–1907 Chronicles the birth of the American Empire at the turn of the 20th Century John Hay, William Randolph Hearst, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, George Dewey, William Jennings Bryan, Elihu Root, Henry Adams, Henry James Caroline Sanford, Blaise Sanford, James Burden Day, John Apgar Sanford, Mrs. Delacroix 1987 Fifth
5 Hollywood 1917–1923 Chronicles how cinema shaped Americans' worldviews and identities during the birth of the US film industry Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, Jess Smith, George Creel Caroline Sanford, Blaise Sanford, James Burden Day 1990 Sixth
6 Washington, D.C. 1937–1952 Political life during the administrations of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman Blaise Sanford, Peter Sanford, James Burden Day, Clay Overbury 1967 First
7 The Golden Age 1939–1954, 2000 The American Empire's World War II maturity and Cold War decline; the finale introduces the U.S. at the start of the 21st century Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Hopkins, Harry S. Truman, Gore Vidal Caroline Sanford, Blaise Sanford, Peter Sanford, James Burden Day, Clay Overbury 2000 Seventh


  1. ^ Vidal, Gore. (2006) Point to Point Navigation: a memoir, 1964 to 2000, p. 123.