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Celebrated US writer and commentator Gore Vidal dies aged 86

1 August 2012 Last updated at 08:31 BST

Gore Vidal, one of America's most successful and distinguished writers and commentators, has died aged 86.

His family said that he died at his home in Los Angeles on Tuesday evening after suffering complications from pneumonia.

Gore Vidal wrote 25 novels, including the best-selling Burr and Myra Breckenridge, more than 200 essays and several plays and even ran for political office twice.

Nick Higham looks back on his life.