Narratives of Empire

The Narratives of Empire series is a heptalogy of historical novels by Gore Vidal, published between 1967 and 2000, which chronicle the dawn-to-decadence history of the American Empire; the narratives interweave the personal stories of two families with the personages and events of U.S. history. Despite the publisher's preference for the politically neutral series-title "American Chronicles", Vidal preferred the series title "Narratives of Empire". The seven novels can be read in either historical or publication order without losing narrative intelligibility.[1]

Chrono-logical order Title Story timeline Description Historical characters Fictional characters Published In order of publication
1 Burr1775–1808, 1833–1836, 1840Aaron Burr's story about the Founding Fathers chronicles the beginnings of the U.S. as a country and as a nationAaron Burr, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, Dolley Madison, James Monroe, Alexander McDougall, Davy Crockett, Martin Van Buren, Andrew Jackson, William Leggett, Helen Jewett, William Cullen Bryant, Samuel Swartwout, Jane McManus Storm Edwin Forrest, Washington IrvingCharlie Schuyler, Carolina de Traxler, William de la Touche Clancey 1973 2nd
2 Lincoln1861–1865, 1867Abraham Lincoln's presidency and the disloyalties—internal and external—he overcame to save the UnionAbraham 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 SpragueWilliam Sanford, Charlie Schuyler, Emma Schuyler d'Agrigente, William de la Touche Clancey 1984 4th
3 18761875–1877The theft of the 1876 United States presidential election and its aftermath, when candidate Samuel J. Tilden lost the Electoral College vote to Rutherford B. Hayes, despite Tilden's having won the popular voteSamuel J. Tilden, James G. Blaine, Roscoe Conkling, James A. Garfield, Mark Twain, James Gordon Bennett, Jr., Madame Restell, Ward McAllisterCharlie Schuyler, Emma Schuyler d'Agrigente, John Day Apgar, William Sanford, Denise Delacroix Sanford, William de la Touche Clancey 1976 3rd
4 Empire1898–1907The birth of the American Empire at the turn of the 20th CenturyJohn Hay, William Randolph Hearst, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, George Dewey, William Jennings Bryan, Elihu Root, Henry Adams, Henry JamesCaroline Sanford, Blaise Sanford, James Burden Day, John Apgar Sanford, Mrs. Delacroix 1987 5th
5 Hollywood1917–1923How the movies shaped the national identity and worldview of the people of the U.S., by the new film business, at Hollywood, CaliforniaWoodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, Jess Smith, George Creel, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, Charlie Chaplin, Marion Davies, Elinor Glyn, Mabel Normand, William Desmond TaylorCaroline Sanford, Blaise Sanford, James Burden Day 1990 6th
6 Washington, D.C.1937–1952Political life during the administrations of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. TrumanBlaise Sanford, Peter Sanford, James Burden Day, Clay Overbury 1967 1st
7 The Golden Age1939–1954, 2000The American Empire matures in the Second World War and its decay and decline in the Cold War; the finale presents the U.S. at the turn of the twenty first centuryFranklin D. Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, Harry Hopkins, Harry S. Truman, Wendell Wilkie, Herbert Hoover, Gore Vidal, John La Touche, Dawn Powell, Tennessee WilliamsCaroline Sanford, Blaise Sanford, Peter Sanford, James Burden Day, Clay Overbury 2000 7th


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

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