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A Look Back at a Towering American Life
on May 15, 2010
William F. Buckley was perhaps the most influential American journalist of the latter half of the twentieth century, and his impact on our politics was immense. Lee Edwards chronicles Buckley's life in this volume.
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.