10 Best Gore Vidal Books 2024 (updated)

Which are the best books by Gore Vidal?

Gore Vidal (1925 – 2012) was an American writer and public intellectual known for his diverse literary achievements.

He was an influential figure in American literature, renowned for his novels, plays, and his sharp wit and commentary on politics and culture.

As a writer, Vidal explored various genres, including historical fiction, satire, and political commentary. Some of his notable works include “Burr” (1973), “Lincoln” (1984), and “Myra Breckinridge” (1968).

Vidal was known for his provocative and outspoken views on politics and society. He frequently appeared on television and engaged in debates, often challenging the status quo and critiquing American imperialism. 

In addition to his literary pursuits, Vidal also had a career in Hollywood as a screenwriter. He wrote and co-wrote several successful films, including “Ben-Hur” (1959) and “Suddenly, Last Summer” (1959).

Gore Vidal’s writing style was characterized by his eloquence, historical detail, and incisive social commentary. His works reflected his sharp intellect and his willingness to challenge prevailing norms and conventions.

List of 10 Best Gore Vidal Books

I have made a list of the top 10 books by Gore Vidal to help you in your journey. Hope this helps!

1. Burr (1973)

Burr” is a historical novel that explores the life of Aaron Burr, a controversial American political figure. 

Set against the backdrop of early American history, Vidal presents a fictionalized account of Burr’s life, delving into his role in the Revolutionary War, his infamous duel with Alexander Hamilton, and his later years as a lawyer and statesman. 

Through the eyes of Burr’s fictional young law clerk, Charles Schermerhorn Schuyler, Vidal weaves together a compelling narrative that examines Burr’s complex personality, political ambitions, and his ultimate fall from grace. 

Get the book here: Burr

2. Lincoln (1984)

Lincoln” is a historical novel that offers an unconventional portrayal of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. Vidal delves into the political and personal challenges that Lincoln faced during the tumultuous era of the American Civil War. 

The novel portrays Lincoln as a shrewd and ambitious politician, navigating the complexities of his presidency while dealing with the Civil War, political rivalries, and the loss of his son. 

Vidal presents a nuanced portrayal of Lincoln’s relationships with his cabinet members, including Secretary of State William Seward and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. 

Get the book here: Lincoln

3. Julian (1964)

Julian” is set in the 4th century AD and offers a fictional autobiography of the Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate. Vidal explores the life and struggles of Julian as he grapples with religion, philosophy, and the exercise of power. 

The novel portrays Julian’s complex relationship with Christianity and his attempt to revive pagan traditions in the Roman Empire. 

Vidal delves into Julian’s intellectual pursuits, including his fascination with Greek philosophy and his desire to create a more inclusive society. 

Get the book here: Julian

4. Myra Breckinridge (1968)

Myra Breckinridge” is a controversial and satirical novel that challenges traditional notions of gender and sexuality. 

The book follows the adventures of Myra Breckinridge, a transgender woman who sets out to dismantle societal norms and challenge traditional gender roles. 

Through sharp wit and biting social commentary, Vidal critiques American culture, Hollywood, and sexual repression.

Get the book here: Myra Breckinridge

5. The City and the Pillar (1948)

The City and the Pillar” is a groundbreaking novel that explores homosexuality in post-World War II America. The story follows Jim Willard, a young man who comes to terms with his sexual identity in a society that stigmatizes homosexuality. 

After a chance encounter with his childhood friend, Bob Ford, Jim embarks on a journey to find love and fulfillment. 

The novel delves into themes of desire, identity, and the challenges faced by gay men in a conservative and intolerant society. 

Get the book here: The City and the Pillar

6. Creation (1981)

Creation” is an ambitious historical novel that takes readers on a captivating journey through various ancient civilizations. Set in the 5th century BC, the story follows the life of Cyrus Spitama, the grandson of the prophet Zoroaster. 

As Cyrus travels from Persia to India and encounters figures such as Buddha and Confucius, Vidal presents a satirical and thought-provoking exploration of religion, philosophy, and the human quest for meaning. 

Get the book here: Creation

7. Washington, D.C. (1967)

Washington, D.C.” is a political novel that forms part of Vidal’s “Narratives of Empire” series. Set in the 1930s and 1940s, the book provides a panoramic view of American politics, corruption, and power struggles in the nation’s capital. 

The narrative follows a cast of characters from various social backgrounds, including a journalist, a senator, and a socialite, whose lives become intertwined in the complex web of political maneuvering. 

Get the book here: Washington, D.C.

8. Palimpsest (1995)

Palimpsest” is a memoir by Gore Vidal that provides a deeply personal account of his life experiences and offers insights into the worlds of politics, literature, and entertainment. 

The memoir takes its title from the term for a manuscript page where old text has been erased and overwritten, symbolizing Vidal’s revisiting and layering of memories and reflections. 

In “Palimpsest,” Vidal recounts his relationships with notable figures such as Tennessee Williams, Christopher Isherwood, and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Get the book here: Palimpsest

9. Empire (1987)

Empire” is the seventh novel in Gore Vidal’s “Narratives of Empire” series and serves as a critical examination of American imperialism. 

Spanning the period from the Spanish-American War to the Cold War era, Vidal presents a comprehensive view of the United States quest for power and influence on the world stage.

Through a mix of fictional and historical characters, Vidal explores the motivations and consequences of American imperialism.

Get the book here: Empire

10. The Golden Age (2000)

The Golden Age” is the final installment in Gore Vidal’s “Narratives of Empire” series, providing a sweeping panorama of American history from World War II to the Vietnam War. 

It combines fictional and historical characters to present an intricate tapestry of the American experience during a tumultuous period of the 20th century.

Vidal’s narrative delves into various aspects of post-war American society, politics, and culture. He explores the rise of the military-industrial complex, the impact of the Cold War on American society, and the struggles for civil rights and social justice. 

Get the book here: The Golden Age


Did Gore Vidal primarily write fiction or nonfiction?

Gore Vidal wrote both fiction and non-fiction works. 

Was Gore Vidal known for his political views?

Yes, Gore Vidal was known for his outspoken political views. He also ran for political office himself, albeit unsuccessfully.

Which book by Gore Vidal is considered his masterpiece?

“Burr” and “Lincoln” are often regarded as two of Gore Vidal’s most significant works.

How would you describe Gore Vidal’s writing style?

Gore Vidal’s writing style was characterized by his eloquence, historical detail, and incisive social commentary.

When was Gore Vidal born?

Gore Vidal was born on October 3, 1925.


Gore Vidal was a prominent American writer and public intellectual. He explored a wide range of themes in his novels, plays, screenplays, essays, and memoirs, including power, politics, history, sexuality, and the complexities of American society.

Vidal’s legacy as a writer and public intellectual remains influential, and his books continue to resonate with readers, sparking critical thinking and challenging prevailing norms. 

His contributions to literature and his fearless engagement with politics and society have left a lasting impact on the literary world.


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