Gore Vidal wrote his first novel at age 19, while serving in the United States Army, and was acclaimed as one of the most promising young writers to emerge from World War II. He created an international sensation in the late '40s with The City and the Pillar, a novel that shattered the taboo barring frank portrayal of sexuality in American literature. In the 1950s, Vidal pioneered original drama on television, and enjoyed smash hits on Broadway with Visit to a Small Planet and the political drama The Best Man.
Vidal's essays and television appearances established him as a formidable political commentator and social critic. He was in constant demand as a public speaker, renowned for his wicked wit, dazzling erudition and sincere outrage at the corruption of the political process.
Over the decades, he thrilled readers with international best-sellers in an astounding variety of styles, from philosophical dramas of classical antiquity like Julian and Creation, to hallucinatory satires like Myra Breckinridge and Duluth. His crowning achievement may have been his masterful recreation of American history in a series of novels including Burr, 1876 and Lincoln. His collected essays, United States, won the National Book Award in 1993. Critics debate which of these works is his finest, but his cumulative achievement made Gore Vidal the greatest American man of letters of his era.