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William F. Buckley, Jr.: Patron Saint of the Conservatives Paperback – January 29, 2001

4.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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About the Author

John B. Judis is a senior editor at "The New Republic" and has also written for "GQ", " Foreign Affairs", " Mother Jones", " The New York Times Magazine", and "The Washington Post". He is the author of "The Folly of Empire "and "The Emerging Democratic Majority", among other books.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (January 29, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743217977
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743217972
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,430,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Christopher Grant on February 28, 2008
It's been ages since I read this book, but WFB's death yesterday has got me browsing through books by or about Buckley, and I was reminded how much I liked Judis's book. It's a pleasure (and seemingly so unusual nowadays) to get to read someone writing respectfully about someone with whom he strongly disagrees, whether it's the leftist Judis writing about Buckley, or Buckley himself writing moving obituaries of those on the left.

From the perspective of a WFB fan who finds hagiographies tiresome, this book was a real treat, and I recommend it highly.
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I couldn't disagree more with cxlxmx's review of this book. John Judis has written a remarkably interesting book about one of the most important figures in the history of modern conservatism. It would be fair to say that William F. Buckley was the most important figure in the political history of the Right, as he provided an intellectual infrastructure for right wing thought.

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.
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Journalist and writer John B. Judis has also written books such as The Emerging Democratic Majority, The Folly of Empire: What George W. Bush Could Learn from Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, The Paradox of American Democracy: Elites, Special Interests, and the Betrayal of the Public Trust, etc. This book was written in 1988 (Buckley died in 2008).

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.
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Great book; very objective, almost a love feast of fascinating Buckley quotes, but also very critical. I recommend Mr. Judis' biography of William F. Buckley, Jr. as a great way to understand the course of American conservatism in the last century, going strong into this one.
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Buckley as Mephistopheles conniving for the soul of America - from enfant terrible' of the CIA's creature, the "Conservative Movement" - to old conjurer too pooped to Pope over the sinister Neocon realm he created.

"Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven." -- John Milton

Google [The Phony Legacy of William F. Buckley Jr.]
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