Gore Vidal (1925-2012) was born at the United States Military Academy at West Point. His first novel, Williwaw, written when he was 19 years old and serving in the army, appeared in the spring of 1946. He wrote 23 novels, five plays, many screenplays, short stories, well over 200 essays, and a memoir.
Lustbader (The Ninja, Shan) seems here to be attempting a combination of Shogun and The Godfather, with some Ludlum tossed in, but it doesn't work. Philip Doss, assassin for a secret U.S. agency, dies in a car wreck in Hawaii. Top Japanese gangsters, a Japanese business cabal and the U.S. agency all try to discover the culprit. Masashi Taki, head yakuza (Japanese Mafia) has plans to bomb China; the businessmen want to recover a secret diary wthat would expose and ruin them; and the secret agency is trying to find a very high-level mole. Doss's son Michael, painter and martial-arts ace, is recruited by his father's boss to solve the mystery, which, we are told in long flashbacks goes back to 1946 occupied Japan. What seems like a cast of thousands thrashes through 40 years of operatic plot that ends with a plop. We move across the Pacific, the past and the present, but the scenery never changes. Even with all the violence, the cardboard characters and inane plot have as much punch as cotton candy. (May)
Fictional creation Caroline Sanford, owner of the Washington Tribune, is the central character in this historical novel that focuses on late 19th/early 20th century America's emergence as a global power. A well-written tale in the tradition of the author's Burr and 1876, it encompasses the Spanish-American War of 1898, U.S. takeover of the Philippines, President McKinley's assassination, and the stormy presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. Interesting and well-developed real-life characters abound, including, most memorably, Secretary of State and Lincoln's old friend John Hay. Intermixed with the well-researched backdrop of historical characters and events is Caroline's personal story. The fifth novel in Vidal's ``American Chronicle'' series, this is yet another winner. Highly recommended. BOMC main selection.James B. Hemesath, Adams State Coll. Lib., Alamosa, Col.