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Overdrive: A Personal Documentary Hardcover – August, 1983

4.3 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 262 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1st edition (August 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385182694
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385182690
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #812,855 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Whether one agrees or disagrees with his politics, it is impossible to deny that WFB lives deep and sucks out all the marrow of life with an energy and drive that few can match. In Overdrive, we glance at his world - just a week - and his seemingly effortless juggling of enough activities to fill at least a half dozen lives: novelist, speaker/lecturer, magazine editor, non-fiction writer, concert harpsichordist, philanthropist, sea-faring sailor/adventurer, black belt grammarian, and bon vivant. Since he has yet to write a book on uber time management for the carpe diem crowd, those of us who would emulate his astonishing ability to fill life with extraordinary accomplishments and experiences must settle for this enjoyable book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Basically reads like he took some speed and then recorded each of his thoughts for a solid week. Quite entertaining, but a little long-winded and disjointed at times and a lot of the references were too far before my time to be engaging. I prefer his other work.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm not sure there is a Buckley book I have enjoyed more than Overdrive. It is a sequel of sorts to Cruising Speed. Both are experiments in a certain sort of autobiographical work, covering a week in the life of the frenetically busy Buckley. While it has been criticized as being self-absorbed and egotistical, I really disagree. Buckley actually lived out this kind of larger-than-life existence, and for me these books, like his sailing books (his other autobiographical works that I have read) were inspiring. What have I done with my own life? Have I experienced life to the fullest, worked my hardest, developed my talents to the utmost?

Perhaps most importantly, Buckley, far from being aloof, comes across in these books as a man with a seemingly inexhaustible capacity for friendship and personal interactions. The volume of his correspondence is staggering, and he insisted, until very late in life, on responding with at least a few words to each piece of mail he received -- an Old World sort of etiquette that is largely dead today, where people can't be bothered to respond a few words even to a personal or business email, it seems.

But do read Cruising Speed first, and perhaps also the sailing books that precede it in publication date, to get the full flavor of Buckley's life. In Overdrive, President Reagan is in office -- the culmination of Buckley's decades in the wilderness as leader of the conservative movement. In Cruising Speed, he is still a "happy warrior" in that wilderness. The sweetness of the victory cannot be fully appreciated without seeing the labors and uncertainty that preceded it.

But do read Overdrive.
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Format: Paperback
For years William F. Buckley was a voice in the wilderness, a vigorous conservative at odds with the principles of the day. Then, in 1981, one of his followers became President. Life must have been good. Here he allows himself an opportunity to bask in his triumph.

It's not a great book, given the subject is a rather self-involved man nattering on about himself without much self-editing. If you are a Buckley fan, "Overdrive" is still worthy reading, Buckley sharing eight days of his life in a spirit of candor, vigor, and good humor. If you are a Buckley detractor, "Overdrive" is also worthy reading, because the man provides plenty of ammunition to feed the negative image of him as a Latin-spouting Thurston Howell type.

So clamorous were the reviews he felt a need to respond to his critics in an "Introductory Epilogue" that ran with the paperback edition of this book in 1984. "My limousine has miles to go before I sleep," he writes.

The epilogue is probably the weakest part of the book, given that Buckley is on the defensive and allowing himself to be defined by folks like Nora Ephron, who wrote of him: "Give an Irishman a horse, and he'll vote Tory." (Ouch!) The rest of the book chronicles Buckley's life from November 16-23, 1981, not because anything particularly special happened then but because Buckley felt it would make a worthy experiment, "a book-length work about the events of a single week as it unfolded". He did this once before, in 1970 with "Cruising Speed", but of course he was enjoying better weeks in 1981 with his guy Reagan in the Oval Office.

"Overdrive" captures one phone conversation between Buckley and Reagan ("a social call") as well as another where Vice President George H. W.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Insightful into the busy schedule of an excellent fast writer. This is the first full length book of WFB that I read upon discovering National Review in the early 1980s and supreme conservative writing on political matters and public policy. Overdrive gives personal insights from WFB, like his elaborating on fear of boredom, and his constant intent on compensating for it by offsetting habits. I am reminded of a line from the book: on a Sunday morning, he writes that his wife yielded him the NYT. Just fun sentences, thoughts, sentiments, as well as disclosing how busy one can be trying to retain what has been great about America, as we watch her in decline (it appears).
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