What does Gore Vidal mean when he says that the genius of the American ruling class is that the people do not even know they have a ruling class?
Vidal believes that the American republic was soon destroyed and replaced by an empire—first an internal empire (seized from Native Americans, Mexicans, and others) and then an overseas one (based mainly on dominating countries rather than owning them as colonies). How do Americans maintain an empire without owning many foreign colonies? Why does Vidal believe that the avowed American policy of exporting its concepts of democracy and freedom is a key to the creation and maintenance of an empire?
Aaron Burr and his descendants figure in each of Vidal’s American historical fictions. Why does he center on Burr, the “bad boy” among the Founding Fathers?
Vidal’s portraits of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin D. Roosevelt often shock readers, although many professional historians believe that his interpretations are accurate and convincing. Discuss.
Vidal has an insider position within various American elites: the wealthy, political, celebrity, and creative. How does his insider status give his descriptions of the American ruling class particular force and flavor?
Why does Vidal believe that if the Emperor Julian had lived and achieved his goals, then American history would have been quite different (and better)?