From Publishers Weekly
This mammoth omnibus of 114 essays is vintage Vidal, a marvelous compendium of sharp wit and independent judgment that confirms his status as a man of letters. The prolific novelist/critic offers withering putdowns of the French "new novel," billionaire Howard Hughes and bestseller lists. He displays a reporter's hard nose for facts in travel pieces on Nasser's Egypt and Mongolia. He pens definitive portraits of H. L. Mencken, Oscar Wilde, Anthony Burgess, L. Frank Baum. He reminisces on his boyhood friendship with Amelia Earhart, who, we learn, was in love with Vidal's father, Eugene, FDR's director of commercial aviation. Mingling patrician impulses and egalitarian, subversive sentiments, Vidal takes unfashionable stances, as when he urges the legalization of drugs or ending military aid to the Middle East, including Israel. His sense of the United States as hub of an overextended empire informs pieces on "American sissy" Theodore Roosevelt, JFK, CIA spook E. Howard Hunt and the bloated military budget.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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From Library Journal
Vidal's National Book Award-winning volume comprises 114 essays. Vidal paints in broad strokes, and the pieces cover history and politics (Richard Nixon and Robert Kennedy); sociology (feminism, the American Empire); American and world literature including figures such as Tennessee Williams, William Dean Howells, Norman Mailer, Henry James, Edmund Wilson, Anthony Burgess, Paul Bowles, and more; and of, course, the film industry.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.