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The Smithsonian Institution

On sale

7th October 1999

Price: £9.99

Selected:  Paperback / ISBN-13: 9780349110721

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Good Friday, 1939, and T., a sixteen-year-old schoolboy, arrives at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington. The museum is closed, but T. manages to slip in, and it would appear that somehow, he is expected. An old man, Bentsen, shows him around, and T. realises that all is not as it seems. As he goes to examine a Native American exhibit, he is drawn magically into the nineteenth-century world of a reservation of Sioux Indians. They like what they see of T. and immediately get the pot boiling. T. is forced to take refuge in the tent of a young Squaw. They become lovers, and she helps him to escape back to the safety of the Smithsonian.

Back with Bentsen, T. explores the Smithsonian further and begins to fathom the mysteries of time travel. The Smithsonian scientists have discovered how to get back to the past, but still don’t know how to travel to the future. T. puts his brilliant mathematical brain to the problem. However, given a glimpse into the future, T. sees his own untimely death, and becomes determined to prevent the outbreak of WWII…


Jay McInerny
Falling somewhere between the realms of Henry Adams and all of Monty Python...
Vidal's combination of learning, wit and disdain gets into your blood. He can change the way you think - the only definition of a great writer which makes sense
The Times
Vidal cleverly satirises the hubris of American hegemony.
This is a jeu d'esprit, an iridescent bubble of a book
Mail on Sunday
With a fluidity of style matching an action that dances elegantly in time and space, Vidal's flesh-and-blood ghosts race the mind into a higher space.
Allan Massie
America's best living novelist