Gore Vidal
Point to Point Navigation: A Memoir, 1964 to 2006.
Doubleday, 277 pages, $26

August 1968. William F. Buckley Jr. had been goosed, against his better judgment, into a series of television debates with Gore Vidal, set against that year’s political conventions. Relations between the two had been degenerating for some time, and in Chicago, their contempts built to detonation.

The terminal exchange came to concern the character of the violence in the streets, where student rioters, protesting Vietnam and other causes, were roughly beaten by the city police. “As far as I am concerned,” Vidal snapped viperishly at Buckley, “the only crypto Nazi I can think of is yourself …” Next came the notorious reply: “Now listen, you queer. Stop calling me a crypto Nazi or I’ll sock you in your goddamn face and you’ll stay plastered.” The...


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