Mr. Hearst is just one character in this book, whereas the characterization of President Theodore Roosevelt is almost cartoonist and an insult to my intelligence. T.R. was very likely the smartest President in the history of our country. He read on the average two books a day, wrote numerous novels, was an expert on numerous subjects, and above all else he was one of the first Presidents to break-up cooperate monopolies and trusts in the U.S. In Mr. Vidal’s version of the man, he is a war monger, empire builder, loud and boisterous and whose accomplishments don’t add up to much, such as the successful negotiations by Secretary of State Hay to end the Russian and Japanese war, the building of the Panama Canal, and the building up of our military and especially our navy are minor accomplishments in the grand scale of things.
“Empire,” despite the depiction of President Roosevelt is a compelling narrative and its depiction of Washington, DC, and its underbelly of corruption is mesmerizing, and the depictions of historical figures such as Lincoln, President McKinley, Henry Adams, Sec. John Hays, and Henry James are masterful.
Vidal is a treasure, even if I don’t agree with his depiction of President Roosevelt.