I wrote the first of these pieces in 1952, the year that Eisenhower was elected president, and the last in 1992, the year of Clinton’s election. The first piece, “The Twelve Caesars,” was written after rereading Suetonius and realizing that I had never before got the point of what he is telling us, not so much about the Caesars as about our common humanity and the nature of power. Apparently, people still miss the point: it took a long time before anyone would publish so “outrageous” a commentary.
This collection represents about two thirds of the essays or pieces that I have published over forty years. They seem to fall naturally into three categories: literature, or the state of the art; politics, or the state of the union; personal responses to people and events, not to mention old movies and children’s books, or the state of being. So, herewith, my three states—united.
Copyright © 2001 by Gore Vidal. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.