By Fred Kaplan
(Doubleday, Hardcover, 9780385477031, 864pp.)
Publication Date: October 12, 1999
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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Novelist, cultural critic, essayist, historian, comic satirist, image maker, provocateur, actor, homosexual, bisexual...controversial, brilliant, confrontational, unflinching, cynical, idealistic...finding words to describe Gore Vidal is never difficult. And yet, an accurate picture of this multifaceted chameleon has eluded us until now. Here, at last, is a vastly entertaining biography of an American icon.
From his Washington childhood, a world of high political and social connections and domestic turmoil, to his Exeter education and U.S. Army experiences; from his Hollywood and television career to his literary life as a novelist, playwright, and essayist; from his friendships and feuds with Tennessee Williams, Anaïs Nin, Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, and William Buckley to his exploration of homosexuality and celebration of bisexuality; from his cool satirical analyses of "the rich, the famous and the powerful" to his projection of himself onto the national stage of television talk shows and political ambition, Gore Vidal has been both participant in and spectator at the centers of American power. No other twentieth-century figure has moved so easily and confidently, and had such a profound effect, in the disparate worlds of literature, drama, film, politics, historical debate, and the culture wars.
Fred Kaplan enjoyed complete access to Vidal's papers, letters, and private photographs, as well as television and newsreel footage, but was guaranteed a free hand by Vidal to write as he saw fit. The result is a lively, witty, and textured life of a literary colossus.
Fred Kaplan is Distinguished Professor of English Literature at Queens College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is the critically acclaimed author of the biographies Henry James, Dickens, and Thomas Carlyle (which was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize), and the editor of The Essential Gore Vidal. Kaplan has held Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, received a Queens College Presidential Award, and been a Fellow of the National Humanities Center. He is currently at work on a biography of Mark Twain. Kaplan lives in Brooklyn, New York.
"Fascinating--. Vidal's life is so full of incident and celebrity, so much at the center of power and glamour, Kaplan's book is a pageant of entertaining stories."--The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"Kaplan must be commended...a splendid job."--San Francisco Chronicle
"An invaluable font of research."--The Washington Post