William F. Buckley, Jr. by Lee Edwards

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.


4 thoughts on “William F. Buckley, Jr. by Lee Edwards

    • I would definitely recommend his autobiographical account of several days in his life which is titled Cruising Speed. I am also very fond of his novel Stained Glass. Honestly, his books are of less importance than his life. He was the first conservative superstar of the television age. His skills in debate were so deadly and his combination of personality and looks were so powerful, he almost single-handedly made conservatism a live option in American politics. He was an author, yes, but was still more a speaker, a television host, the inventor of a great publication (National Review), and an institution builder.

  1. Stained Glass is an absolute must. And because of who I am, The Lexicon: A Cornucopia of Wonderful Words for the Inquisitive Word Lover. If you read the latter, you will understand why the man was so skilled at debate and discussion. He had the ability to understand complexities and yet explain them so succinctly. Few people that had the mental and verbal weaponry at his beck and call used it so fairly and justly. Nuance did not escape his notice, and insight into choice of words was a love of his. Just my 2 cents, Hunter.

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