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Cruising Speed: A Documentary Hardcover – September 1, 1971


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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons; 1st edition (September 1971)
  • ISBN-10: 0399101810
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399101816
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,966,026 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By E. Payne on April 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Even during my pony-tail days as a member in good standing of Woodstock Nation, I was drawn to William F. Buckley Jr as the most fascinating antithesis of 60s liberalism. At the time I strongly disagreed with much of what he said, but was attracted by the charming and erudite way he said it. Like Odysseus, I hoped my Leftist ideological ropes would be stout enough to permit me to enjoy Buckley's Sirens song without being dashed upon the rocks of Political Incorrectness. I survived the encounter, although I may have tacked a bit more starboard as a result.

"Cruising Speed" takes the form of a journal covering Buckley's activities from a single week in November 1970. Nixon is mid-way through his first term and WFB has achieved fame through his "National Review" magazine, his "Firing Line" television show, and an on-going media contretemps with Gore Vidal. He would later revisit the format during the Reagan-era in the book "Overdrive." But this is by far the better of the two.

We quickly learn that a week in the life of WFB would satiate the desires of most mere mortals for several months or more. Since Buckley wrote of these events a bit after the fact, there is room for both reflection and amplification. We learn more about what we suspected: while WFB could be the most steely and relentless of debate opponents, he was at pains to differentiate his relationships with people from his analysis of their ideas. Thus we variously find him dining with Truman Capote, fondly recalling encounters with John Kenneth Galbraith, and deciding to take in a movie--in this case the documentary about the Rolling Stones at Altamont, "Gimme Shelter." This is not your father's conservative.
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The ex-library book came in good time and very good condition as expected. Cruising Speed is a documented one week in the life of a busy magazine editor (National Review), public speaker, tv debate host, and journalist, with frequent reminisces. Buckley is a favorite writer of mine, so I enjoyed the excursion. One interesting surprise ingredient in the book is Buckley's conceits (philosophical, foundational thoughts) indirectly offered via a letter from an unnamed correspondent, p 158 ff., followed by a direct Christian philosophical offer of Buckley's own to readers who are spiritually searching. Overall, a pleasant, intriguing repose in reading from mandatory research and study in other categories of reading.
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4 of 27 people found the following review helpful By The Orange Duke on October 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover
In this aptly named book Buckley amply demonstrates the dangers of fame, as he has become so pompously self indulgent that he imagines his every thought is gospel to be doted on by his faithful devotees. No doubt his disciples will agree, but the rest of us are just bored. Buckley made his name as a witty and vicious eloquent exponent of conservative political thinking, but there is nothing political here. Truth to be told, there is nothing remotely interesting here, much less profound. Stripped of his politics, Buckley is revealed as a Howard Stern-like shameless self-promoter. Buckley is great writer, no doubt, but even his fine prose cannot make this drivel readable. Meandering and pointless, this book is truly only interesting to those who wish to study the delusions of those that society labels as `important'. Of course it's easy to be conservative when everything is handed to you on a silver platter. With such a background, it is no great achievement to be considered `important'. There are thousands of articulate intellectuals who could have done what Buckley did if they had had his wealthy parents. It's especially important to note, that for all his self-aggrandizement, his wealthy background made his success as a publisher a given. If he failed, some wealthy relative would simply bail him out. It is no surprise that an over educated spoiled son of privilege should become the spokesman for the arrogant nobles obligees set. Stick to `Up from Liberalism'.
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