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Gore Vidal

Eugene Luther Gore Vidal Jr, better known as Gore Vidal (born 1925) is a famous US author. He was born at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, where his father was an aeronautics instructor.

He was brought up in the Washington, DC area, where his grandfather Thomas P. Gore[?] was a Democrat senator from Oklahoma. Thomas P. Gore was blind, and young Vidal frequently acted as his guide, thereby gaining unusual access for a child to the corridors of power. After graduating from Phillips Exeter Academy, Gore joined the US Army Reserve in 1943. At the age of 21, he produced his first novel, Williwaw[?], based upon his military experiences in the Alaskan Harbor Detachment[?]. The book was well received; however he did not create a major stir until a few years later when his novel The City and the Pillar[?], which dealt candidly with gay themes, caused a furor, to the extent that the New York Times refused to review a number of his later books. Subsequently Vidal worked on plays, films and television series as a scriptwriter, as sales of his novels slipped.

In the 1960s, Vidal wrote a number of novels, either political or historical in terms of their subject matter. Amongst these were Julian[?],Burr, Washington D.C.[?], Duluth[?] and the transsexual comedies Myra Breckenridge[?] and its sequel, Myron. Particularly noted among his later novels are Lincoln[?], Creation[?], and Kalki[?]. Although he wrote the original script for the controversial film Caligula, he tried to have his name removed from the final result.

Vidal is also known as a witty and insightful essayist, writing chiefly on political, historical, and literary themes. Much of his essay work is collected in the volumes United States[?] and The Last Empire[?].

Vidal moved to Italy and was cast as himself in Federico Fellini's film Roma[?]. His liberal politics are well-documented and in 1987 he wrote a series of essays entitled Armageddon[?], exploring the intricacies of power in contemporary America, and ruthlessly pillorying the then presidential incumbent Ronald Reagan, whom he has famously described as a "triumph of the embalmer[?]'s art". Besides his politican grandfather, Vidal has other connections to the Democratic Party; his mother Nina married Hugh Auchincloss[?], who was the stepfather of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy. Vidal is also a distant cousin of former Vice-President[?] and Presidential candidate Al Gore.

He co-starred in the 1994 film Bob Roberts[?] with Tim Robbins[?], as well as as films, notably Gattaca and With Honors[?]. He was also an unsuccessful candidate for Congress in 1960 and 1982, despite the backing of such liberal celebrities as Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.

Vidal is noted as a wit and raconteur. He is also noted as a self-publicist and if a more accurate definition of his view on things were required, this is neatly summed up in the following assertion which he made in a magazine interview: "There is not one human problem that could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise."

Views on September 11

Vidal is unsurprisingly critical of the Bush administration, as he has been of previous US administrations which he considers to have either an explicit or implicit expansionist agenda. He has frequently made the point in interviews, essays and in a recent book that Americans "are now governed by a junta of oil-Pentagon men ... both Bushes, Cheney, Rumsfeld and so on". He makes the case that for several years this group and their associates have aimed to control the oil of central Asia (after gaining effective control of the oil of the Persian Gulf in 1991). Specifically regarding the September 11 terrorist attack, Vidal writes how such an attack, (and American intelligence knew a big attack would come soon), politically justified the plans the administration already had in August 2001 for invading Afghanistan the following October.

He discusses the remarkable lack of defence, among them the ninety-minute delay in getting fighter planes into the air to intercept the hijacked airliners, compared with the five minutes or so one would expect after a hijacking report. If these huge failures were incompetence, they would deserve "a number of courts martial with an impeachment or two thrown in". Instead there is to be only a limited inquiry into how the "potential breakdowns among federal agencies ... could have allowed the terrorist attacks to occur". This, concludes Vidal, in the denouement of his conspiracy theory, proves that the administration in fact let the attack happen, in order to allow just about all options for domination in world oil supplies under the banner of noble war against an Axis of Evil.

Book: Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace or How We Came To Be so Hated, Thunder's Mouth Press, 2002, ISBN 156025405X (pbk)

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