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William F. Buckley, Jr.: Patron Saint of the Conservatives Paperback – January 29, 2001
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From the perspective of a WFB fan who finds hagiographies tiresome, this book was a real treat, and I recommend it highly.
I read this book as part of a seminar I took in graduate school during the 90s, and fully expected to dislike William F. Buckley, given my own liberal politics. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Buckley played an important role in attempting to discredit the more crackpot elements within the Right, in particular, the John Birch Society. I was so intrigued by this idea, that I ended up writing my M.A. thesis on the Birch Society. This book was the original inspiration for my research.
Judis gives a fair and fascinating account of a very interesting and misunderstood figure. I would recommend this book to anyone, and I believe it is an excellent source for understanding how Conservatives captured control of the federal government during the Reagan years and maintained their grip on power into the present day.
Judis suggests, "Buckley might have excelled as a student at Yale, but he was not interested in scholarship or even in the play of ideas. He liked debating with his professors in class, where the response was immediate, but even during his first two and a half years at Yale... he never read beyond what was assigned in class. He regarded his education as an instrument---as a means of buttressing his existing convictions and strengthening his hand in public debate." (Pg. 59) He adds, "Buckley rejected the conception of the university as an educational marketplace; he believed that the purpose of education was not to acquaint students with the means of discovering the truth, but with received truths and the means of defending them." (Pg. 85)
Of Buckley in the 1950s, he wrote, "Beginning with the assumption that the United States was locked in a life-and-death struggle with communism, Buckley ... opted for what amounted to a balanced authoritarianism.Read more ›
"Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven." -- John Milton
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