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Let Us Talk of Many Things : The Collected Speeches with New Commentary by the Author Hardcover – April 20, 2000

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Editorial Reviews Review

It's impossible to think of the modern conservative movement without the deep influence of William F. Buckley Jr., founder of National Review and host of the television series Firing Line. Yet Buckley's evangelizing didn't just occur on the printed page or go out on the airwaves; he gave countless numbers of speeches during the second half of the 20th century. Several dozen of the most significant are collected in Let Us Talk of Many Things, from a 1950 address at Yale University hinting at themes that would be developed fully in God and Man at Yale to a 1999 talk to the Heritage Foundation (on the meaning of heritage, appropriately enough). In between, there are comments on Joseph McCarthy, Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, the failure of the drug war--and on and on and on.

In its way, the book provides a history of American conservative politics, as well as a witty primer on what those politics are all about. One example: "Politics, it has been said, is the preoccupation of the quarter-educated, and I do most solidly endorse that observation, and therefore curse this century above all things for its having given all sentient beings very little alternative than to occupy themselves with politics. It is very well to say we will ignore the Great Society. But will the Great Society repay us our courtesy by ignoring us?" In another speech, delivered shortly after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and at a time when many Americans turned stoutly pessimistic about their own country, Buckley turned matters on their head: "That is the salient datum in America: not that we bred the aberrant assassins of John Kennedy and Martin Luther King, but that we bred the widely shared and the most intensely felt sense of grief: such grief over the loss of Mr. Kennedy and Mr. King as is felt over the loss of one's own sons." The statement is vintage Buckley: the old-fashioned use of the word datum, two colons in a single sentence, and a comforting faith in the United States. There's also an insightful and hilarious essay, which first appeared in The New Yorker, describing a life on the lecture circuit, complete with tips on how to make sure undergraduates driving you to the airport the next morning arrive at your hotel on time. This is a simply wonderful book by one of America's premier public intellectuals. --John J. Miller

From Library Journal

In his 74 years, Buckley has racked up a dazzling list of achievements: author of more than 30 novels and nonfiction works, founder of the National Review, host of the PBS series Firing Line, and syndicated columnist appearing in more than 300 newspapers. Add to that list well-paid public speaker for half a century. At his peak, Buckley delivered more than 70 lectures annually, and today he still gives about 20 lectures a year. Ninety-five speeches from his repertoire of 184 delivered between the 1950s and 1990s are reprised in this volume. For those well acquainted with Buckley's conservative views, there is little new to recommend this volume, except perhaps the brief introductory remarks that he has added before each speech. For true Buckley believers, however, any volume that bears his name is incentive enough. An optional purchase except for specialized collections in modern U.S. conservative thought and for libraries serving patrons hungry for more Buckley.AWilliam D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ., Shreveport
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Prima Lifestyles; First Edition edition (April 20, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0761525513
  • ISBN-13: 978-0761525516
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,261,053 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 42 people found the following review helpful By taking a rest HALL OF FAME on May 21, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I am a great admirer of Mr. Buckley, which hardly distinguishes me, as those who admire him even though it may pain them to do so are legion. In deference to Mr. Buckley's specificity of language I use legion as defined by Oxford as found within definition number 3.
You have only to look at those people who admire and respect him to understand that his thoughts and beliefs go well beyond the moniker of "Conservative". That this is the case is a tribute to his mind, to him as a person, and to the body of written work he has produced and which he continues to expand.
He is an accomplished novelist, he can speak as an equal on Constitutional Law when addressing a gathering of judges, and he shared a deeply personal book on his faith in God. His range is not limited to that of an Author, he also is an Orator of Historic talent and near limitless range. As a Debater I always felt those who stepped up to cross swords with him to be fools, willing sacrifices, or both. Or perhaps they picked up the gauntlet so they could say that they did, that they too were a victim of his wit, his intellect, his passion, and his exacting logic of his beliefs.
This book covers 50 years of his public speaking and is remarkable for a plenitude of reasons. You will be struck by the consistency that is this man. He knew what he believed in while at Yale, and those beliefs and values are the same to this day. Were we all so consistent, so confident, were our elected leaders even aware of the concept.
His facility with the spoken and written word is to be marveled at not derided. His remarks or ripostes are sometimes brutal, but they are forged from belief not hurled as slander.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Robert L. McMahon on May 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
An admirer of Mr. Buckley for many years, this is precisely the book I have been wishing him to publish. The only drawback here is that it will know doubt need to be updated as I doubt Mr. Buckley has ended his public discourse.
Any American interested in public policy and modern conservatism needs to have this book on their shelf.
As presumptuous as this may sound, I am also looking forward to at least two more volumes: The Collected Essays and The Collected Debates.
My best wishes to Mr. Buckley.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Stamper VINE VOICE on July 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Back in my college days I first saw Bill Buckley in a TV ad imploring me to read NATIONAL REVIEW. He never directly stated the magazines leanings, but promised that they were decidedly different and quite possibly much like my own. He was right on both counts. I've spent the subsequent years reading about every splinter brand of American Conservatism, but Mr. Buckley's views are still most like my own. For this, I can highly recommend this collection.
For those of you whose views may substantially differ with Mr. Buckley, I can name a couple of reasons why this book might be of interest. 1) You'll learn the components of a wonderfully given speech. Buckley is able to tie in the locale and group he's speaking to in such a way that it seems that he has been waiting his whole life to give this particular speech at this particular location. 2) He blends humor into the most serious of speeches in such a way that it never seems forced. He's good at relating a particularly good barb leveled at him (laughter) to be followed by an even sharper retort (more laughter). 3) He has a gentle nature that comes through again and again. His overachieving hasn't seemed to get in the way of his many friendships or in the love of his family.
I don't know if history will speak of William F. Buckley Jr., 200 years, but any evidence that need be shown to his importance could be summed up in this volume. If you have never read Mr. Buckley this would be a great way to start.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By R. W. Rasband VINE VOICE on April 9, 2002
Format: Hardcover
William F. Buckley may be the most influential American writer of the second half of the 20th century. A strong statement, but think about it. When he wielded his pen he defended freedom in an era when that concept was beginning to be considered passe. He famously jumped "athwart history, yelling 'stop!" With his elegant, cosmopolitan prose he made consevativism intellectually respectable. He advocated a philosophy that was faith-based, yet humane and rigorously inqusitive about the world. And he's one of the funniest damn writers around. One of his greatest contributions in the 1950's and 60's was his adamant insistence that anti-Semites, racists, and extremists like the John Birch Society weren't a legitimate part of the consevative movement. This advocacy of tolerance and respect for rationality sprang from the charity that comes from a properly understood religious faith. He always strongly supported Israel as the vessel of Western values in a dangerous part of the world.
This is a collection of speeches that Buckley gave over the course of a 40-year career. Because they were meant to be heard instead of read, they are more informal and less intimidating than some of his other work. One can find here a rich slice of recent American history from the perspective of one of the good guys.
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