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If Not Us, Who?: William Rusher, National Review, and the Conservative Movement Hardcover – August 15, 2011
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“Frisk’s deeply researched and well-written biography fills the gap. . . . Anyone interested in understanding [conservatism’s] rise should read Frisk’s highly informative study.” —New York Times Book Review
“As David B. Frisk shows us in this finely tuned and richly detailed biography, Rusher was one of the most respected figures in the American conservative movement. . . . Frisk’s fine book . . . [is] the best that has been written, and long needed.” —Washington Times
“[Frisk] has done a superb job of chronicling the life and times of William A. Rusher. . . . A masterly job.” — National Review
“As the right arm of William F. Buckley and in a hundred other roles, Bill Rusher fought tirelessly for the values that defined the modern conservative movement. Every American trying to recapture that commitment ought to read David Frisk’s wonderful new biography of a man to whom the country owes much.” —Hugh Hewitt, nationally syndicated radio host
“William A. Rusher is one of the premier examples of the rare combination of thought and action, and David Frisk has performed an important service to history and the conservative movement in telling Rusher’s story so thoroughly and insightfully.” —Steven F. Hayward, author of The Age of Reagan
“The great unsung hero of the conservative movement” —MARK LEVIN
If Not Us, Who? is both the story of an architect of the modern conservative movement and a colorful journey through a half century of high-level politics.
Best known as the longtime publisher of National Review, William Rusher (1923–2011) was more than just a crucial figure in the history of the Right’s leading magazine. He was a political intellectual, tactician, and strategist who helped shape the historic rise of conservatism.
To write If Not Us, Who?, David B. Frisk pored over Rusher’s voluminous papers at the Library of Congress and interviewed dozens of insiders, including National Review founder William F. Buckley Jr., in addition to Rusher himself. The result is a gripping biography, authorized yet independent, that shines new light on Rusher’s significance as an observer and an activist while bringing to life more than a generation’s worth of political hopes, fears, and controversies.
Frisk vividly captures the joys and struggles at National Review, including Rusher’s complex relationship with the legendary Buckley. Here we see the powerful blend of wit, erudition, dedication, shrewdness, and earnestness that made Rusher an influential figure at NR and an indispensable link between conservatism’s leading theorists and its political practitioners.
“If not us, who? If not now, when?”—a maxim often attributed to Ronald Reagan—could have been Rusher’s motto. In everything he did—publishing National Review, recruiting and advising political candidates, organizing cadres of young conservatives, taking on liberal advocates in a popular television debate program, writing a syndicated column—his objective was to build a movement. And he constantly exhorted his colleagues to step up as leaders of that movement. His tireless efforts proved essential to conservatism’s ascendancy, from the pivotal Goldwater campaign through the Reagan era.
Largely unexamined until now, Rusher’s career opens a new window onto the history of the conservative movement, its successes and failures. This comprehensive biography reintroduces readers to a remarkable man of thought and action.
Top Customer Reviews
David Frisk's "If Not Us, Who?" looks back at Rusher's life from his early years to his retirement in San Francisco. Frisk notes the risk that Rusher took in joining NR and describes his relationship with Buckley. Several debates within conservatism during those decades are looked back on by the author, as well as some of the battles the conservative movement fought. The Goldwater candidacy, the Cold War, Watergate, the Reagan candidacies and presidency, and many more events are remembered--in a way this volume reads as a history of the conservative movement, with Rusher playing in instrumental role in the happenings. Frisk also recalls Rusher's tenure as a debater and columnist.
Bill Rusher was vital to the conservative movement's successes, and all who wish to learn more about the history of American conservatism would greatly enjoy this biography.
Author David Frisk really does his homework here, interviewing a collection of Rusher's colleagues that reads like who's-who of 20th Century American conservatism. The result is part biography, part history, and all essential reading for anyone interested in the nuts and bolts of American politics.
I had the privilege of knowing Mr. Rusher during his years in San Francisco, after he had retired from the National Review. He was one of a kind: fastidious, erudite, good-humored and, above all, conservative, and damned proud of it. Frisk's invaluable book captures both the man and the movement.
Brevard, North Carolina
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I enjoyed this book a great deal. Rusher was a bit of an odd duck, but he was committed to the conservative movement from its inception in the 50's. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Richard Milvenan
William Rusher, the former publisher and de facto senior editor of the National Review and long-time conservative political activist, is not exactly a household name in 2014. Read morePublished on January 18, 2014 by HMS Warspite