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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Look Back at a Towering American Life
William F. Buckley was perhaps the most influential American journalist of the latter half of the twentieth century, and his impact on our politics was immense. Lee Edwards chronicles Buckley's life in this volume.

The author begins by describing Buckley's early years, including his upbringing and years at Yale, and then moves on to the 1950s, when Buckley...
Published on May 15, 2010 by Eric Mayforth

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A thoroughly disappointing biography from several angles
A thoroughly disappointing biography from several angles. True, it gets the point across, it tells the story fairly well: the Catholic, conservative, wordsmith gave American conservatism an intellectual panache and foundation it lacked in the 1950s, when, in the wake of FDR, it had lost its way. It's true: without Goldwater, no Reagan; without Buckley, no Goldwater...
Published 8 months ago by Gene Rhea Tucker


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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Look Back at a Towering American Life, May 15, 2010
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This review is from: William F. Buckley Jr.: The Maker of a Movement (Hardcover)
William F. Buckley was perhaps the most influential American journalist of the latter half of the twentieth century, and his impact on our politics was immense. Lee Edwards chronicles Buckley's life in this volume.

The author begins by describing Buckley's early years, including his upbringing and years at Yale, and then moves on to the 1950s, when Buckley built the conservative movement. He discusses the founding of National Review, and discusses how Buckley united the different factions of conservatism under one tent. Conservatism necessarily maintains a healthy tension between authority and tradition on one hand and justice and freedom on the other, and Edwards discusses the "fusionism" that Buckley used to unite traditionalists with more libertarian conservatives, while at the same time reading the Birchers and Randites out of the movement.

Edwards traces Buckley's life and magazine as they became more influential in American life from the 1960s through the 1980s, discussing the Goldwater nomination, Buckley's candidacy for mayor of New York City, Ronald Reagan's election, and the ultimate victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War. The book recalls the famous Blackford Oakes spy novels and closes by discussing Buckley's commentary on the War on Terror of the past decade.

All conservatives would enjoy this book, but younger conservatives who want to learn more about the history of their movement would especially profit by reading this short biography of one of the giants of recent American life.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Big man in a small book, July 18, 2010
This review is from: William F. Buckley Jr.: The Maker of a Movement (Hardcover)
"We must do what we can to bring hammer blows against the bell jar that protects the dreamers from reality." William F. Buckley

Lee Edward's book introduces us to the life and ideas of William F. Buckley Jr. He attempts to explore the life of a man defined by his complexity, nuanced thought, humor, faith and a passion for life but offers us only fleeting glimpses. This 191 page book is written more like an informative time line, then an attempt to reveal "the father of conservatism."

Edwards does a good job in the limited space he allows himself to recreate the cold war context in which Buckley was developing and executing his various approaches to political thought. He also effectively sketches how Buckley galvanized the ideas of the different approaches to conservatism into a powerful political movement. Edwards, overall, creates a solid outline of Buckley but rarely gives us the depth of his trademark intellectual dexterity and passion for ideas.

This would be a solid jumping off point for anyone looking to get an introductory sense of Buckley, a true renaissance man of political ideas. For me, watching Buckley engaged his guests on Firing Line gives you a better sense of the multifaceted intelligence, humor and vitality that made up William Buckley and are missing from this book. This You Tube clip with Noam Chomsky in 1969 gives a sense of Buckley [...]

Perhaps Edwards simply wrote too small a book for so large a man.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Bio on WFB! Highly Recommended!!!, May 10, 2010
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Kevin O'Malley (CENTREVILLE, VIRGINIA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: William F. Buckley Jr.: The Maker of a Movement (Hardcover)
Lee Edwards has hit a home run once again, this time with the fantastic bio of William F. Buckley. Edwards does a supurb job of capturing all the best in the life and times of the founder of the modern day Conservative movement. This book is a great look back for those of us who grew up with WFB and serves as the perfect introduction to Buckley for the younger generation who did not grow up on NR and/or "Firing Line". Kudos to Edwards for another well written biography!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Buckley, June 16, 2010
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This review is from: William F. Buckley Jr.: The Maker of a Movement (Hardcover)
An informative brief review of the contributions of William F. Buckley, Jr. to the development of the conservative movement in the latter part of the 20th century. Written by the dean of historians of the conservative movement, the author was a personal friend and fellow warrior in the political and ideological battles described in this important book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A thoroughly disappointing biography from several angles, January 8, 2014
This review is from: William F. Buckley Jr.: The Maker of a Movement (Hardcover)
A thoroughly disappointing biography from several angles. True, it gets the point across, it tells the story fairly well: the Catholic, conservative, wordsmith gave American conservatism an intellectual panache and foundation it lacked in the 1950s, when, in the wake of FDR, it had lost its way. It's true: without Goldwater, no Reagan; without Buckley, no Goldwater. Still, this book was little better than a well-written Wikipedia entry. There is no flair and no depth in this book. Instead of long expositions on the issues of the day, or his books, or his seminal articles, there is very little. Three skimpy paragraphs explain the Vidal incident. Books like "Up From Liberalism" are mentioned in passing. There no real exposition of anything. Instead of explaining John Lindsay, or Nelson Rockefeller, or what was going on at the time, you get a superficial view of what Buckley was doing to counter these straw men, because Lee Edwards, the author, gave these straw men no real flesh. This book could have used a hundred more pages, or, better, one hundred fifty. And pictures? Where are they? There are four small portraits that are strewn across just the first 62 pages, and they aren't even of the biography's subject. Instead there are these four dull pics of Nock, Kendall, Burnham, and Chambers. Why have pictures at all?

As I gave Buckley's witty "autobiography" "Miles Gone By" four stars, this gets half of that: two.

Because of this book, I will not buy anything else by Lee Edwards.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A contempt for Communism, a firm belief in private enterprise, and an abiding faith in God., October 14, 2011
This review is from: William F. Buckley Jr.: The Maker of a Movement (Hardcover)
According to those who knew him best these were the three guiding principles in the extraordinary life of William F. Buckley Jr. It can be argued that from his days as an undergraduate at Yale until his death in February 2008 William F. Buckley Jr. did more to advance the conservative cause in this country than any other individual. I have been fascinated with the man since I was a teenager in the 1960's. Author Lee Edwards knew Bill Buckley for more than four decades and as such is uniquely qualified to write his biography. "William F. Buckley: The Maker of a Movement" dissects the life of this intellectual giant and conservative icon. You will discover those who in his formative years exerted the greatest influence over his thinking and also learn who would come to be most affected by Buckley himself. "William F. Buckley: The Maker of a Movement" combines elegant writing with real insights into the heart and soul of this man.

What is so impressive about William F. Buckley Jr. is that he was independently wealthy and could have easily opted for a life of leisure. But that was not the way he was raised. His father Will was a major influence on young Bill. And according to Lee Edwards the elder Buckley "loved America, trusted the free market and hated Communism with a passion." Indeed, William F. Buckley Jr. was the proverbial "chip off the old block". In "The Maker of a Movement" you will discover five other individuals who would play a major role in shaping Bill Buckley's conservative political philosophy. Oddly enough virtually all of them were former Communists who ultimately saw the error of their ways and become staunch anti-communists as they grew older. Bill Buckley was an extremely gifted writer and communicator who recognized in the early 1950's that if conservatism was ever going to advance in America it needed "a formative journal that would change the nation's intellectual and political climate" in much the same way that "The Nation" and "New Republic" did in the formative years of the New Deal. Thus, Buckley stuck his neck out and started his own magazine. He published the very first issue of "National Review" in early 1955 and would remain editor-in-chief until 1990. The goal was to provide a forum for a wide array of conservative voices. There can be no disputing the fact that Bill Buckley and the stable of writers he assembled at "National Review" would play a major role in spawning the conservative revolution that would take place in this country over the next four decades culminating in the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 and the Republican takeover of both the House and Senate in 1994.

As if founding and editing a major magazine was not enough William F. Buckley Jr. would wear a number of other hats during his long and distinguished career. He made an unlikely run for Mayor of New York as the Conservative Party candidate in 1965 and shortly thereafter launched his highly successful PBS program "Firing Line". Television had never seen anything quite like it. Buckley would debate prominent liberals about the issues of the day and more often than not expose the folly of their positions. Likewise he would invite leading conservative thinkers to the program to kick around important policy questions. In its remarkable 33 year run "Firing Line" aired more than 1500 episodes. Unlike the "no holds barred" political fare on cable TV these days that often resembles the food fight in "Animal House" Bill Buckley's approach was marked by civility and a serious discussion of the issues. I was a faithful viewer for years. But as Lee Edwards recalls such was not the case when Buckley and liberal author and political activist Gore Vidal squared off for a series of televised debates as part of ABC News coverage of the 1968 Republican and Democratic national conventions. Fireworks erupted between the two of them that would rival the chaos on the streets of Chicago. Clearly it was not one of Bill Buckley's better moments. Throughout his life Mr. Buckley continued to churn out books and speak at forums all over the country. Anything to advance the cause. Buckley was also an avid yachtsman who sailed across both oceans. He also took great joy in his skiing trips to the Swiss Alps. Whether it be work or play Bill Buckley lived life to the fullest.

I must tell you that I was quite excited when I happened upon "William F. Buckley: The Maker of a Movement". This book does not disappoint! I thoroughly enjoyed reading about a man whom I consider to be one of the most fascinating public figures of my lifetime. I recall a remark Bill Buckley made some years ago that Lee Stevens chose to include in his book. It seems to succinctly sum up his utter disdain for the liberal elite in the land that he loved so much. He mused "I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members at Harvard University." I completely concur. Had he lived Bill Buckley would have been appalled by the crowd in charge of Washington today. I believe that "William F. Buckley: The Maker of a Movement" would be a great choice for both students of history and general readers alike. Very highly recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant..a man of substance..long missed, but the CAUSE marches on........., September 23, 2010
By 
Jinka1950 "Jinka1950" (Suttons Bay, Michigan) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: William F. Buckley Jr.: The Maker of a Movement (Hardcover)
A man for all Seasons!!! Long missed.... a spectacular read...
A supreme prognosticator....... The Cause marches on...

Genie
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bill Buckley, a Man of Intellect and Elegance, August 25, 2014
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This review is from: William F. Buckley Jr.: The Maker of a Movement (Hardcover)
This short book is neither scholarly nor a definitive biography of Bill Buckley, the father of modern conservatism in America. Nonetheless, it is the first of what I hope are several books about this wonderful man who died at his desk at the age of 82 in 2008.

Buckley left a voluminous oeuvre: 50 books of both fiction and non-fiction, 5,600 newspaper columns, and 1,500 episodes of 'Firing Line' (his hour-long weekly TV show that ran for 33 years, 1966-1999). He was an editor (and founder of National Review, a fortnightly magazine that survives him), author, columnist, sailor, raconteur, politician (he ran unsuccessfully for mayor in New York City in 1965), and, above all, a thinker who changed the course of history. Without Buckley, there would not have been Goldwater. And without Goldwater, there would not have been Reagan.

He brought together under one roof the three major strands of contemporary American conservatism: economic conservatives, social conservatives, and anti-communists. Early on (1962), Buckley read the John Birch Society out the conservative movement; had he not done so, this reviewer believes that conservatism would have never attained the intellectual respectability that it has.

Central to his persona was his unwavering devotion to Catholicism. The author of this biography argues persuasively that Buckley's faith had a leavening effect on his personality. He was a fierce and menacing combatant in the marketplace of ideas, but he didn't have a mean bone in his body. Liberals--except for the lunatic, Gore Vidal--mostly loved him. He had a towering intellect. His mastery of English rivaled H.L. Mencken's.

He was the master of the pithy phrase. The night before the 1965 election for mayor in New York, he was asked what he would do if he awakened the morning after and found out he had won; said Buckley: "Demand a recount." In the spring of 1966, I attended a talk he gave in Glendale, California. Afterward, I elbowed my way up to him and asked him to sign my program. As he did so, I asked, "Mr. Buckley, do you expect to seek elective office again?" He froze in mid-signature, looked up as if to the heavens, then gazed down at me, and said: "Not unless my Cre-a-TOR deems it necessary!"

Even those who are familiar with Buckley, as I was, will find this book accessible, informative, and entertaining. It is a well-written chronicle of Buckley's life. I recommend it to those who enjoy political biographies, to right-of-center conservatives, and to those who seek to understand how the Republican Party became the party of ideas. As Reagan proved, ideas change the world. America would be a different and not nearly so great a place had Buckley not graced us with his elegant presence.
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5.0 out of 5 stars We miss you Bill!, January 3, 2014
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This review is from: William F. Buckley Jr.: The Maker of a Movement (Hardcover)
This is a wonderful, but extremely short, written appreciation of the most significant voice of Conservatism. I am afraid that there is no heir apparent to take his place as the voice of the American people who feel that our government is leaning way too far to the liberal left.
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5.0 out of 5 stars And what a movement!, July 12, 2013
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This review is from: William F. Buckley Jr.: The Maker of a Movement (Hardcover)
It`s time to find another William F. Buckley Jr. to again move this Country to where the Framers intended it to be.
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William F. Buckley Jr.: The Maker of a Movement
William F. Buckley Jr.: The Maker of a Movement by Lee Edwards (Hardcover - April 12, 2010)
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