From Publishers Weekly
This is the journeyman Bill Buckley. Part memoir, part political history and part reportage, Flying High
sparkles with joie de vivre and syntactical expertise, giving lively accounts of Nikita Khrushchev's historic—and theatrical—visit to the United States, the 1960 Republican convention and fallout, and National Review
's heady first years. Readers are made privy to Buckley's behind-closed-doors meetings with other right-wing mavens as they debate the John Birch Society, commission Buckley's brother-in-law, Brent Bozell, to ghostwrite The Conscience of a Conservative
and attempt to propel its putative author Goldwater into political office—only to find themselves dramatically excluded from the 1964 campaign. Although the book's scattered time line is slightly jarring (Buckley jumps between the 1964 campaign and affectionate memories of Goldwater), that does not detract from this book's modest and utterly satisfying pleasures. (May)
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Buckley’s recent death casts a valedictory shadow over his posthumously published tribute to the man who, for an entire generation, gave American conservatism its most recognizable public face. In his own inimitable style—elegant yet edgy—the crown prince of conservative intellectuals recounts the decisive events that forged the paradoxical Barry Goldwater presidential campaign of 1964. Though doomed to an abysmal electoral defeat, that campaign galvanized the conservative cadres who would go on to decades of political triumph. Predictably, Buckley highlights his own role in formulating Goldwater’s right-wing agenda and in promulgating that agenda through the magazine (National Review) he founded. More surprising for many readers will be the story of how Goldwater’s landmark political credo Conscience of a Conservative took shape through one of National Review’s carefully groomed correspondents acting as the author’s ghostwriter. Yet it was Goldwater’s own indomitable personal courage that converted a paper-and-ink philosophy into an unforgettable public presence, inspiring bold new hopes among the conservative Republicans who rallied to his banner. Buckley particularly highlights the unlikely circumstances that allowed a relatively new Republican convert—a B-movie actor named Ronald Reagan—to deliver a riveting speech in the waning hours of Goldwater’s ill-fated presidential run. A compelling reminder that individual personality still matters in the modern world of mass politics. --Bryce Christensen