As an avid consumer of biographies, it is always a relief to realise that the one you've just bought because you're interested in the subject is actually well-written and enjoyable. Excellent on family background and the all-important grandfather, Senator Thomas P. Gore. Gives a good picture of the circles in which Vidal moved and moves. A good biography gives us a picture of the world of the subject and characters both major and minor. While not in the league, for example, of Michael Holroyd's biography of Augustus John or Francis Steegmuller's of Jean Cocteau, Kaplan still gives a good sense of Vidal and his world. We are not given many excerpts from the works themselves, which I regret, as sometimes the biography is the reader's introduction to a writer's work and not the other way around. However, it's not a critical study and is very long as it is. In spite of its length, it is a book that just goes ripping along. Full of anecdote and story, it's extremely entertaining and informative.
Page 109 of Vidal's autobiography Point to Point Navigation refers to Kaplan's book. Here Vidal is scathing about what he describes as "inaccuracies". Of course Kaplan might have drilled down into areas Vidal did not want him to go...................my review title is a lift from The Times Literary Supplement on this book.
This biography is very detailed but never boring. Its SO well researched and full of wonderful episodes of an extraordinary mans life - and a very priviliged life - At the same time the reader flies through the history of the US of Amnesia - politics, economy and (high) society. Great reading. Even if you dont know Gore Vidal, you will admire him as a bright and brave character after closing this book Jens Sorensen, Denmark