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Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription: Notes and Asides from National ReviewPM Hardcover – October 23, 2007

4.6 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

William F. Buckley Jr. is the author of fifty previous works of fiction and nonfiction. The founder and former editor-in-chief of National Review and former host of “Firing Line,” he has been one of the intellectual leaders of the right since the 1950s. He lives in Stamford, Connecticut, and New York City.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 1st edition (October 23, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465002420
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465002429
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,070,760 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Craig Matteson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on November 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover
National Review and William F. Buckley Jr. have been a delight in my life for decades. One of the great features of magazine was called Notes and Asides. It contained a wonderfully strange mix of letters with responses from Buckley that covered language, politics, arts, challenges, witty exchanges, questions, requests, WFB's posture, and letters from Presidents. They are all wonderful in their way and many are laugh out loud funny. This book is a chronological collection of selections from this department from 1967-2005.

Not only are these exchanges wonderful insights into the times in which they were written, they bring back wonderful memories and fill in some of the things I missed. There is an ongoing joke between WFB and Art Buchwald about the perks Buchwald is getting from his Hertz Platinum card that he assumes WFB is not getting or getting more of than him. It is all good fun. We also get some warmish exchanges between WFB and Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., some light tweaking between John Kenneth Galbraith and WFB, and letters WFB sent to various publications correcting statements made about him in their pages.

There is also the wonderful fun Buckley has with language and those who criticize his usage, "accent", and vocabulary. He handles it all with good humor and patiently explains that his first language was Spanish, then French, and didn't speak English until he was five. One of the fun bits recounts the famous phrase "immanentize the eschaton". Did you know it became a motto of Young Americans for Freedom? What does it mean? Simply to attempt to bring from the transcendent from the spiritual world (the eschaton) into this world (the immanent). It is a criticism of hubris in liberal attempts to try and create a literal Heaven on Earth.
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Format: Hardcover
One of the things which first hooked me on "National Review" when I was younger was the hilarious informality of Bill Buckley's "Notes and Asides" column. He set apart space in his magazine to joust with some readers and have fun with others, in a gloriously unbuttoned style that was irresistible to a budding teenage libertarian like me. He has gathered together his greatest hits in "Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription" (a title which perfectly sums up the wonderfully impudent tone of the book.) In some ways Buckley was the original blogger and this book provides a running history of U.S. politics and culture in recent decades from one guy's brilliantly witty perspective. If you are looking for a way to ease into Buckley's voluminous writings this is an excellent place to start.
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Format: Hardcover
With the publication of the wonderful Florence King's Stet, Damnit! in 2003 and WFB's "Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription" in 2007, National Review books are breaking new ground in the use of profanity in titles. Which is not a field in which I would have expected them to show such leadership. But since we have Buckley's own assurance in these pages (page 33, to be precise) that "goddam," as used, is profane but not blasphemous, sensitive readers should not be troubled.

William F. Buckley's books can be categorized, broadly, in two ways: books of conservative theory and practice (his collected columns, The Unmaking of a Mayor, etc.), and what could be termed personal indulgences (Overdrive: A Personal Documentary, the spy novels, and so on). This book is unquestionably an indulgence, and people who have little patience for Buckley and his well-established personality and voice will probably find this book, as they found him, infuriating. But for those of us who had great respect for the man and enjoyed watching him perform (no slight intended by use of that word), even when we may have disagreed with him, "Cancel Your Own..." is a joy to read and a foretaste of how much we will miss him in the future.

As the subtitle indicates, "Cancel Your Own..." is made up of excerpts and highlights from WFB's long-running "Notes and Asides" column in NR.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a committed Liberal, I despise everything Bill Buckley espoused, but I adored the man. National Review was anathema, except for Buckley's columns which would make me seethe, or laugh, or snarl -- but there was no resisting those words. Notes and Asides consists of Buckley at his most entertaining, wielding those $20 words, creating sentences that marched right off the page into battle, and giving us an insight into one of the most complex thinkers in modern history. Love him? Hate him? Doesnt matter. This book will hold anyone who loves words and ideas spellbound for hours.

Here's the sad part. Mr. Buckley is gone and there are none to take his place. Compare this book to the ones being written by the New Conservatives, and your heart will break. When did conservative literature degenerate from God and Man At Yale to the gas expulsions of that Oxy-Contin addicted walking whoopie cushion that is Rush Limbaugh?

Who will take up Buckley's sword and be the brilliant, eruduate, eloquent voice of the Conservatives? Bill O'Reilly, the Shut Up King? Buckley wouldn't have wasted one of his elegant sneers on that lying ignoramous. Sean Hannity? Nope...he couldn't hold a candle to Buckley...too much flying spittle. Glenn Beck? The clown who dressed up as Hitler's doorman on the cover of his book>? Okay, let's give it to Beck by default. He's now the literary and intellectual pinnacle of the Conservative movement. Congratulations to all of you. And Enjoy.

Okay, back to the review: Notes and Asides is selected from Buckley's responses to letters to the editor of National Review. His correspondence with Art Buchwald is worth the price of admission. Buy the book. Read it. You'll learn something, the cobwebs will blow out of your brain, and you'll experience some of the best use of the English language in this century. Just don't necessarily agree with him.
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