(CNN) — Gore Vidal, the eclectic author who faithfully chronicled the major shifts and upheavals in the United States in books, essays and plays, has died. He was 86.
Vidal died at his Los Angeles home Tuesday evening of complications from pneumonia, his nephew Burr Steers said. The author had also been suffering from heart ailments.
Widely hailed as one of America’s greatest man of letters, Vidal was a high-profile commentator on politics, including his bitter opposition to the war in Iraq.
Born into politics as the member of a rich and powerful family, he joined the Navy at 17 before shocking the world by writing one of the first novels to include an openly gay character: his 1948 work, “The City and the Pillar.”
In all, he wrote some 25 novels, two successful Broadway plays, numerous screenplays, more than 200 essays and the memoir “Palimpsest.” His collection of essays, “United States: Essays, 1952-1992″ won the National Book Award in 1993.
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