Eugene Luther Gore Vidal, better known as Gore Vidal, was an American writer and public intellectual known for his epigrammatic wit, erudition, and patrician manner. Vidal was bisexual, and in his novels and essays interrogated the social and cultural sexual norms he perceived as driving American life. Beyond literature, Vidal was heavily involved in politics. He twice sought office—unsuccessfully—as a Democratic Party candidate, first in 1960 to the United States House of Representatives, and later in 1982 to the U.S. Senate.
A grandson of a U.S. Senator, Vidal was born into an upper class political family. As a political commentator and essayist, Vidal's primary focus was the history and society of the United States, especially how a militaristic foreign policy reduced the country to a decadent empire. His political and cultural essays were published in The Nation, the New Statesman, the New York Review of Books, and Esquire magazines. As a public intellectual, Gore Vidal's topical debates on sex, politics, and religion with other intellectuals and writers occasionally turned into quarrels with the likes of William F. Buckley Jr. and Norman Mailer.