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Getting It Right: A Novel Hardcover – January 1, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Author, columnist and National Review founder Buckley offers a sentimental bildungsroman about a young man's initiation into the mid-century American conservative movement. In 1956, a 19-year-old Mormon missionary, Woodroe Raynor, is assigned to fieldwork in Austria, near the Hungarian border. He loses his virginity to a Hungarian woman and is wounded as he watches Russian tanks quell the Hungarian uprising. The bullet wound is nothing, however, compared to the psychic pain of learning that his paramour is a Communist sympathizer. Woodroe later attends Princeton and begins working for the John Birch Society. He has a love affair with an Ayn Rand acolyte, leading to some heady epistolary debates about whether Rand or Birch Society founder Robert Welch is better prepared to eradicate Communism. Rand is unmasked (yet again) as a sexually and intellectually manipulative egomaniac, and the wisdom of the National Review and its staff is affirmed regularly. Vivid historical passages about the Cuban missile crisis and the Kennedy assassination, as well as cameo appearances by John Dos Passos and Alan Greenspan, are a welcome diversion from the mostly stilted prose (a sex scene between Rand and a lover is described this way: "Today her lover was being welcomed with synaesthetical concern for all the senses.... But as he lay and later groaned with writhing and release, he brought the full force of his mind to transmuted, voluptarian elation in this physical union..."). Between the self-congratulatory tone and the flat characters, the novel will appeal primarily to Buckley's devoted fans.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

It's become a truism that the groundwork for GOP success since 1980 was laid in the 1950s and in the 1964 Goldwater presidential campaign. Buckley himself was a player then--part of what this historical novel's characters label "the National Review crowd"--but that group is absent here. Instead, Buckley focuses on two of the conservative movement's more controversial elements: the fervently anti-Communist John Birch Society and Ayn Rand's "objectivism." Woodroe (Woody) Raynor witnesses (and is shot in) the 1956 Hungarian Revolution while doing Mormon missionary work across the border in Austria. He returns to attend Princeton and becomes a Birch Society operative on graduation. At the founding meeting of the Young Americans for Freedom (at Buckley's mother's Connecticut estate), Woody meets Leonora Goldstein, an acolyte in "the Collective" surrounding Ayn Rand. Through the eyes of these committed young conservatives, the reader examines Birchers and Randians and witnesses key events: the enrollment of James Meredith at the University of Mississippi, the Cuban missile crisis, JFK's assassination, the Warren Commission's deliberations, the 1964 presidential campaign, and growing U.S. military involvement in Vietnam. In a sense, this novel is "triumphalist" history: Buckley's crowd largely won the 1960s battle for the soul of the Republican Party. Expect his latest novel to appeal most powerfully to readers whose political attitudes match those of National Review. Mary Carroll
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Series: Buckley, William F.
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Regnery Publishing; First Edition edition (January 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0895261383
  • ISBN-13: 978-0895261380
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,970,549 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Buckley could have developed his character better to show why this happened.
Don Milne
It is a fascinating and intriguing historical story and Buckley's unique brand of historical fiction brings it to life in an enjoyable and accessible way.
Kevin Holtsberry
Well, Ayn Rand had an adulterous relationship once (what that has to do with the validity of Objectivism, I don't know.)
J. Michael

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Keith Levenberg on May 4, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you have George H. Nash's /The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945/ on your bookshelf and have thought its themes fertile for a novel of manners, William F. Buckley Jr.'s /Getting it Right/ is the book for you. It presumes substantial familiarity with the figures and institutions that shaped the modern right, so readers who have not followed conservatism's internecine philosophical struggles will find little in this book that anchors their interest. Those well-acquainted with the patriarchs of such fixtures as National Review and Young Americans for Freedom will appreciate /Getting it Right/ as an illuminating chronicle of an ideological revolution of which Buckley is one of the last surviving witnesses. The book is also a fitting companion to /The Redhunter/, Buckley's novelization of the rise and fall of Joe McCarthy, as both books contribute an important perspective to the emergence in the 1950s of an anti-Communist eddy that helped invigorate an ascending conservative movement.
During this era, Buckley, Russell Kirk, Whitaker Chambers, and others were defining, in the pages of National Review, the parameters of conservatism as we understand it today. In so doing, they strove to establish their breed of conservatism as the dominant ideology of anti-Communism, while such firebrands as Ayn Rand and the John Birch Society's Robert Welch adopted a fiercer, more confrontational demeanor. /Getting it Right/ is Buckley's account of how Rand and Welch estranged themselves from the emerging conservative silent majority. Buckley is fair to both and displays a keen understanding of how Rand and Welch each captivated their respective sects. Presently, Rand's legacy is more enduring and I expect that Buckley's portrayal of Rand as a shrew who may have "created an entire . . .
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Don Milne on August 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Being from Utah, this book attracted my curiousity when the book jacket showed the main character, Woodroe was a Mormon. It is not too often that you see a name author choose to make someone of my faith the center of a story.
I was disappointed that Mr. Buckley did not seem to conduct the level of research one would except from someone of his stature. The number of inacuracies about Mormons and Utah is surprising. Couldn't he get a NR intern to do some basic fact checking? Some things are minor like his mentioning the University of Salt Lake City which does not exist, or that Woodroe is from a town north of the Salt Lake. Look at a map, there are no towns on the north end of the Great Salt Lake.
Most incredible are the situations he puts Woodroe in early in the book when he is serving as a missionary. LDS missionaries always work and travel in pairs, but Buckley totally ignores this basic tenant so he can get his main character into situations that would not happen to a normal missionary.
Later in the book it turns out that Woodroe is not all that commited to his faith. Buckley could have developed his character better to show why this happened.
I am not as familiar with the other institutions that he tackles in the book (The JBS and Ayn Rand) but if he was as sloppy in representing them as he was the Mormons than there is probably more fiction in this work than meets the eye.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By R. W. Rasband VINE VOICE on September 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
"Getting It Right" is a historical novel by the godfather of modern American conservatism, William F. Buckley Jr. I don't think I've ever read a historical novel written by one of the actual participants, but here's one. Buckley was present at the creation of "the vast right-wing conspiracy:" the post World War II conservative movement (that would later remake American politics) as it took form in the late 1950's and early 1960's. Buckley tells the story of two extremist groups that could have derailed the new insurgency: the John Birch Society and Ayn Rand's "Objectivists."

Buckley's protagonist is Woodroe Raynor, who we first meet as a young Mormon missionary in 1956 in Austria, along the Hungarian border. I must say young Woodroe's mission is unlike any I experienced as an elder. He lives with a young American couple, teaches English to the natives, and builds houses on the side. It could be that Buckley is familiar with more recent LDS humanitarian missions, or he may be thinking of the effort led by Elder Ezra Taft Benson immediately following the second world war, or he could be making up this part of the story out of whole cloth. But it's very unlikely that a 19 year-old elder would have served a non-proselyting mission like this in 1956. Then there's the little manner of his girlfriend, Teresa, who he sleeps with. She is Hungarian, and she draws him into the 1956 Hungarian revolution against the Communist Russian occupiers. Woodroe is shot trying to help refugees escape, and Teresa turns out to be a double agent. This political and sexual betrayal helps make Woodroe a convinced anti-communist.

Woodroe then attends Princeton University where his mentor is professor Theo Romney, a Mormon from Utah who is the only conservative on the history faculty.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Casper Melick on April 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Getting It Right
by William F. Buckley, Jr.
(Regnery, 302 pps.)

As a political activist whose views have been described as "extreme right-wing" (although I would argue that the Libertarian party annoys the Left and the Right more or less equally), I am naturally interested in how the American Right evolved, from the beginning of the Cold War to the present. It was for that reason--and not, Lord knows, because I expected any stylistic treat'that I looked forward to reading "Getting It Right." Unfortunately, as is usually the case with Mr. Buckley's historical fiction, the book would have been far more interesting'indeed potentially a classic'had the author presented it as non-fiction, either history or personal memoir. As fiction, this book is a bit of a snore.

Mr. Buckley just can't write fiction very well. I would guess that this is because he doesn't ask to be coached, and none of his circle dares coach him unbidden, and in any case his novels sell well enough regardless of their literary quality. His fans'of which I am one, when he sticks to journalism and criticism'live in hope where his fiction is concerned. However, I have finally given way to despair.

"Getting It Right" gives us a terrific subject: the story of how two very different "right-wing" movements'the anti-Communist John Birch Society and the "objectivist" cult of Ayn Rand'diverged and sometimes co-operated and between them pretty well destroyed the possibility of a libertarian revolution, leaving the United States to degenerate into the authoritarian collectivist society it has become.
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