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William F. Buckley Jr.: The Maker of a Movement Hardcover – April 12, 2010
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About the Author
Lee Edwards is a leading historian of the conservative movement, having written The Conservative Revolution, The Essential Ronald Reagan, and Goldwater: The Man Who Made a Revolution, among many other books. He is the distinguished fellow in conservative thought at the Heritage Foundation and an adjunct professor of politics at Catholic University. Dr. Edwards lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with his wife, Anne.
Top Customer Reviews
The author begins by describing Buckley's early years, including his upbringing and years at Yale, and then moves on to the 1950s, when Buckley built the conservative movement. He discusses the founding of National Review, and discusses how Buckley united the different factions of conservatism under one tent. Conservatism necessarily maintains a healthy tension between authority and tradition on one hand and justice and freedom on the other, and Edwards discusses the "fusionism" that Buckley used to unite traditionalists with more libertarian conservatives, while at the same time reading the Birchers and Randites out of the movement.
Edwards traces Buckley's life and magazine as they became more influential in American life from the 1960s through the 1980s, discussing the Goldwater nomination, Buckley's candidacy for mayor of New York City, Ronald Reagan's election, and the ultimate victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War. The book recalls the famous Blackford Oakes spy novels and closes by discussing Buckley's commentary on the War on Terror of the past decade.
All conservatives would enjoy this book, but younger conservatives who want to learn more about the history of their movement would especially profit by reading this short biography of one of the giants of recent American life.
Lee Edward's book introduces us to the life and ideas of William F. Buckley Jr. He attempts to explore the life of a man defined by his complexity, nuanced thought, humor, faith and a passion for life but offers us only fleeting glimpses. This 191 page book is written more like an informative time line, then an attempt to reveal "the father of conservatism."
Edwards does a good job in the limited space he allows himself to recreate the cold war context in which Buckley was developing and executing his various approaches to political thought. He also effectively sketches how Buckley galvanized the ideas of the different approaches to conservatism into a powerful political movement. Edwards, overall, creates a solid outline of Buckley but rarely gives us the depth of his trademark intellectual dexterity and passion for ideas.
This would be a solid jumping off point for anyone looking to get an introductory sense of Buckley, a true renaissance man of political ideas. For me, watching Buckley engaged his guests on Firing Line gives you a better sense of the multifaceted intelligence, humor and vitality that made up William Buckley and are missing from this book. This You Tube clip with Noam Chomsky in 1969 gives a sense of Buckley [...]
Perhaps Edwards simply wrote too small a book for so large a man.
As I gave Buckley's witty "autobiography" "Miles Gone By" four stars, this gets half of that: two.
Because of this book, I will not buy anything else by Lee Edwards.
Buckley left a voluminous oeuvre: 50 books of both fiction and non-fiction, 5,600 newspaper columns, and 1,500 episodes of 'Firing Line' (his hour-long weekly TV show that ran for 33 years, 1966-1999). He was an editor (and founder of National Review, a fortnightly magazine that survives him), author, columnist, sailor, raconteur, politician (he ran unsuccessfully for mayor in New York City in 1965), and, above all, a thinker who changed the course of history. Without Buckley, there would not have been Goldwater. And without Goldwater, there would not have been Reagan.
He brought together under one roof the three major strands of contemporary American conservatism: economic conservatives, social conservatives, and anti-communists. Early on (1962), Buckley read the John Birch Society out the conservative movement; had he not done so, this reviewer believes that conservatism would have never attained the intellectual respectability that it has.
Central to his persona was his unwavering devotion to Catholicism. The author of this biography argues persuasively that Buckley's faith had a leavening effect on his personality. He was a fierce and menacing combatant in the marketplace of ideas, but he didn't have a mean bone in his body. Liberals--except for the lunatic, Gore Vidal--mostly loved him. He had a towering intellect. His mastery of English rivaled H.L. Mencken's.
He was the master of the pithy phrase.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
While we await the comprehensive authorized biography (whatever that can possibly mean) by Sam Tanenhaus (who did the marvelous biography of Whitakker Chambers – let’s hope he does... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Craig Matteson
William F Buckley was an amazing man. He was the conservative movement for many years. It is wonderful to read all I can about him.Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is a wonderful, but extremely short, written appreciation of the most significant voice of Conservatism. Read morePublished on January 3, 2014 by Satisfied customer
It`s time to find another William F. Buckley Jr. to again move this Country to where the Framers intended it to be.Published on July 12, 2013 by papoose
Lee Edwards biography of WFB is a must read for anyone wanting to know more about the father of the Modern Conservative movement. Read morePublished on April 5, 2013 by David Toso
According to those who knew him best these were the three guiding principles in the extraordinary life of William F. Buckley Jr. Read morePublished on October 14, 2011 by Paul Tognetti
A man for all Seasons!!! Long missed.... a spectacular read...
A supreme prognosticator....... The Cause marches on...