On this date in 1925, writer Gore Vidal was born at West Point, New York, where his father worked as an instructor. Vidal largely grew up in the home of his grandfather, Sen. Thomas P. Gore, D-Okla. He graduated from Philips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire and joined the Enlisted Reserve Corps. His first novel, Williwaw, was published when he was only 19. It was followed by the wave-making The City and the Pillar (1948), which featured a sympathetic gay protagonist. Vidal is the prolific author of many other novels and plays, many based on history and politics, and has worked in TV and the movies. Novels include Julian (1964), Myra Breckenridge (1968), Burr (1974), and Live from Golgotha (1992), an irreverent satire imagining the New Testament events if reported on TV. The cousin of Al Gore, he has made some political runs, including a try for the U.S. Senate seat in California in which he came in second of nine in a 1982 race. Vidal is perhaps best known for his refreshing and acerbic interviews and one-liners, such as his famous remark about Ronald Reagan: "A triumph of the embalmer's art." "Probably no American writer since Franklin has derided, ridiculed, and mocked Americans more skillfully and more often than Vidal," wrote Gordon S. Wood (The New York Times, December 14, 2003). Vidal's essays, such as "Pink Triangle and Yellow Star" (1981), are collected in Armageddon (1987). Palimpsest (1995) is his well-received autobiography. Vidal rarely misses a chance to diss religion or monotheism: "I regard monotheism as the greatest disaster ever to befall the human race. I see no good in Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. . ." (letter to Warren Allen Smith, 1954, Who's Who in Hell). Died July 31, 2012.