Lee Edwards’ life of William F. Buckley is the perfect primer for those who don’t know a great deal about Buckley and haven’t obsessively followed his career (as I have).
Before this book, I was only aware of the John Judis bio of Buckley, which was written from a left of center point of view. The Judis bio is deeper and more analytical. Edwards takes pains to dispute Judis on some points.
One of the disturbing things about being almost 40 is that I routinely run into younger conservatives who don’t know who Buckley was or have only a passing awareness of him. This book should be a mandatory item for them. It is almost impossible to understand modern American conservatism without understanding William F. Buckley. In an era of growing statism, one can do little better than to learn about that philosophy’s greatest opponent.
I continue to wait for the Sam Tanenhaus authorized biography of Buckley. I have great hopes he will do for Buckley what he did for Whitaker Chambers. These hopes are notwithstanding Tanenhaus’ own apparent joy at his apprehension of the death of conservatism with the election of Barack Obama.