Just heard the tragic news today that US literary giant, Gore Vidal, has passed away at the age of 86. This is a truly sad day. Apart from his groundbreaking contributions to literature, Gore was a caustic critic of 'the American empire' and of the idiosyncrasies and hypocrisies of Western culture, politics and economics.
Gore was also one of the early supporters of my work, having endorsed my first book, The War on Freedom: How and Why America was Attacked, September 11, 2001 (used by the 9/11 Commission and part of its 'Special Collection'), which he cited and reviewed extensively in an essay in The Observer about a decade ago.
I recently defended Gore (and myself) from another late literary giant, ideologically on the opposite fence - Christopher Hitchens - who took issue with Gore' 'war on terror' essay in a Vanity Fair piece. My response to Hitchens was published in The Independent on Sunday.
Below, in tribute to Gore, I re-publish the full text of his original seminal essay in The Observer. It is one of his least known, yet most incisive, pieces of work. A quick reading of this essay can lead to easy misunderstandings and generalisations - which is what inspired Hitchens (inaccurate) criticisms of him. For contextualisation and clarification of this provocative essay, see my Independent on Sunday piece in reply to Hitchens.
1 August 2012
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