"Gore Vidal's reputation as "America's finest essayist" is an enduring one. Vidal has a gift for writing about the events of the moment with an astuteness usually reserved for the beneficiaries of hindsight, and about events of the past with the familiarity of someone who has just come out of the room where they were happening. This collection, chosen by the author from forty years of work, contains about two thirds of what he has published in various magazines and journals. He has divided the essays into three categories, or states. State of the Art covers literature, including novelists and critics, bestsellers, pieces on the French New Novel, Henry James, Oscar Wilde, Suetonius, Edmund Wilson, Nabokov, Herman Wouk, Italo Calvino, and Montaigne (a previously uncollected essay from 1992). State of the Union deals with politics and public life: sex, drugs, pornography, money, Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, H. L. Mencken, "The Holy Family" (his famous essay on the Kennedys), Nixon, Reagan, and, finally, "Monotheism and Its Discontents," a scathing critique of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. In State of Being, we are given "personal responses to people and events": recollections of his childhood, E. Nesbit, Tarzan, as well as Tennessee Williams, Anais Nin, making movies, travel, home. A lifetime of work from a writer of enormous intelligence, wit, and style."--BOOK JACKET.