The story, as told by the New York News, "is an imaginative affair in which an alien comes from another planet to do a bit of sightseeing and to see or start a war. He thinks he has arrived just in time for the Civil War, which he expects will be jolly, but he has misjudged his landing and gets here in 1957. He tries to make the best of it. 'Isn't hydrogen fun?' he gurgles, as he hears about modern warfare. Where he comes from, civilization has gone way beyond what we have here. They don't don't have babies anymore, for instance, he explains. This interplanetary visitor, who can read human minds, and even has an enchanting conversation with a Siamese cat, plops himself into an average community whose population includes an average general, an average boy and girl in love, and an average TV newscaster." Since he missed the Civil War, the visitor from Outer Space decides to start his own. One his world, emotions were given up to make room for intellectual development, and he cannot understand why his hosts aren't willing to die for his amusement.
Used availability for Gore Vidal's Visit to a Small Planet
October 1997 : USA Hardback
January 1957 : USA Hardback
January 1958 : USA Paperback
1876 : USA Mass Market Paperback