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Literary giant Gore Vidal, who has died aged 86, will be widely remembered as one of the finest post-war American writers.

He penned dozens of novels and screenplays, including the best-sellers ‘Burr’ and ‘Myra Breckenridge.’ He also co-wrote the script for Ben Hur, among other films.

Vidal regularly lambasted lawmakers from both the Republican and Democratic parties in his essays on politics – and even ran for political office himself on two occasions.

In 2001, the author defended his decision to witness the execution of Oklahoma city bomber Timothy McVeigh.

He had apparently been invited to the execution by McVeigh himself during a two-year correspondence between the two.

Vidal was seen as egotistical, but also elegant and brilliant.

He passed away in Hollywood on Wednesday after suffering complications from pneumonia.

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