I have a confession to make. I am a Gore Vidal fan. For almost 20 years, I have read deeply from his novels and essays, and derived much insight from the TV and radio interviews he had given throughout his career. He was our Oscar Wilde and the gadfly of the American system, or as he often called it, "the American Empire."
Here in this slender book are excerpts from 4 different venues, spanning from 1988 to 2007, where Gore Vidal spoke at length (both publicly and in one-on-one interviews) about: "the history of the American Empire, the rise of the National Security State, and his own life in politics, both as a commentator and candidate."
Vidal led such a rich and varied life. He was one of the first of the Second World War generation to publish a best-selling novel (1946). Hailing from a patrician background, Vidal grew up in Northern Virginia and Washington DC, where his maternal grandfather was the first Senator from Oklahoma and his father (a West Point graduate and one of the U.S. Army's first pilots) was an advisor to FDR on aviation matters in the 1930s.
After his Army service and the publication of his debut, best-selling novel "[b:Williwaw|868040|Williwaw|Gore Vidal|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1328872986s/868040.jpg|853423]", Vidal reached a crossroads in 1948 with the publication of his third novel, "[b:The City and the Pillar|88884|The City and the Pillar|Gore Vidal|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320504639s/88884.jpg|6145478]" which dealt directly with the theme of homosexuality. In this book, Vidal admits that he had the opportunity to run in 1948 for national office in New Mexico, where his family had political connections. But in order to pursue what might have been a sure political career in either the House or Senate, Vidal would've had to disavow "The City and the Pillar", which The New York Times roundly condemned. Well, Gore Vidal "took the road less travelled by, and that has made all the difference."
For the reader of this review, I'd like to leave you with these reflections from Gore Vidal: "If you want, let's say, to deny the people certain rights, keep them ignorant of the Bill of Rights. If nobody understands who we were, we won't question why we are what we are. ... [I]t's to the interest of the oligarchs --- the national security statespersons --- keep the people ignorant."