Bill Perdue left a very thoughtful comment on Karen Ocamb's memorial to Gore Vidal, and it begs to start it's own discussion.
I think I've read every book he ever wrote from The City and the Pillar, a breakthrough look at gay life of the time, to my favorite Julian. His six novels of American history offer intense images of the US as it mutated through time. You can read all the history books you want but if you want American history to come alive you have to read include Burr, Lincoln, 1876, Empire, Hollywood and The Golden Age. These are to some extent, stories of the rulers of the US instead of the people who built the US but don't let that turn you off. You won't understand American history without them.
This is my favorite quote from Vidal: "There is only one party in the United States, the Property Party...and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat. Republicans are a bit stupider, more rigid, more doctrinaire in their laissez-faire capitalism than the Democrats, who are cuter, prettier, a bit more corrupt--until recently... and more willing than the Republicans to make small adjustments when the poor, the black, the anti-imperialists get out of hand. But, essentially, there is no difference between the two parties."
Vidal's politics vacillated. He was a radical but not a revolutionist. He pointed out that FDR deliberately provoked the Japanese in the period that led up to Pearl Harbor and said that Truman's nuclear terrorist strikes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 were unnecessary. Gore thought they were the opening salvo of the Cold War and attempts to frightens the Russian, much like the firebombing terrorist attack on Dresden, an open city which was terror bombed into rubble in February, incinerating tens of thousands, just before Soviet armies reached it. He was part of a movement demanding the George Bush be arrested and tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity. First Pelosi, and now Obama stopped that effort for the obvious reason that they'd be in the box with Bush and Clinton.
He was Americas Wilde.
Bill's comparison begs the question: who is your favorite writer? Oscar Wilde or Gore Vidal?