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William F. Buckley Jr: The Maker Of A Movement

2 Ratings: 4.5
2010 nonfiction book by Lee Edwards

  “If you want to understand not only the rise of the modern conservative movement but also how conservatives can regain their footing during these perilous times, you must read William F. Buckley Jr.: The Maker of a Movement. Lee Edwards, … see full wiki

Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Publisher: ISI Books
Date Published: April 12, 2010
1 review about William F. Buckley Jr: The Maker Of A Movement

A contempt for Communism, a firm belief in private enterprise, and an abiding faith in God.

  • Oct 14, 2011
Rating:
+5
According to those who knew him best these were the three guiding principles in the extraordinary life of William F. Buckley Jr.  It can be argued that from his days as an undergraduate at Yale until his death in February 2008 William F. Buckley Jr. did more to advance the conservative cause in this country than any other individual.  I have been fascinated with the man since I was a teenager in the 1960's.  Author Lee Edwards knew Bill Buckley for more than four decades and as such is uniquely qualified to write his biography.  "William F. Buckley: The Maker of a Movement" dissects the life of this intellectual giant and conservative icon.  You will discover those who in his formative years exerted the greatest influence over his thinking and also learn who would come to be most affected by Buckley himself.  "William F. Buckley: The Maker of a Movement" combines elegant writing with real insights into the heart and soul of this man.

What is so impressive about William F. Buckley Jr. is that he was independently wealthy and could have easily opted for a life of leisure. But that was not the way he was raised. His father Will was a major influence on young Bill. And according to Lee Edwards the elder Buckley "loved America, trusted the free market and hated Communism with a passion." Indeed, William F. Buckley Jr. was the proverbial "chip off the old block". In "The Maker of a Movement" you will discover five other individuals who would play a major role in shaping Bill Buckley's conservative political philosophy. Oddly enough virtually all of them were former Communists who ultimately saw the error of their ways and become staunch anti-communists as they grew older. Bill Buckley was an extremely gifted writer and communicator who recognized in the early 1950's that if conservatism was ever going to advance in America it needed "a formative journal that would change the nation's intellectual and political climate" in much the same way that "The Nation" and "New Republic" did in the formative years of the New Deal. Thus, Buckley stuck his neck out and started his own magazine. He published the very first issue of "National Review" in early 1955 and would remain editor-in-chief until 1990. The goal was to provide a forum for a wide array of conservative voices. There can be no disputing the fact that Bill Buckley and the stable of writers he assembled at "National Review" would play a major role in spawning the conservative revolution that would take place in this country over the next four decades culminating in the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 and the Republican takeover of both the House and Senate in 1994.

As if founding and editing a major magazine was not enough William F. Buckley Jr. would wear a number of other hats during his long and distinguished career.  He made an unlikely run for Mayor of New York as the Conservative Party candidate in 1965 and shortly thereafter launched his highly successful PBS program Firing Line".   Television had never seen anything quite like it.  Buckley would debate prominent liberals about the issues of the day and more often than not expose the folly of their positions. Likewise he would invite leading conservative thinkers to the program to kick around important  policy questions.  In its remarkable 33 year run on public television Firing Line aired more than 1500 episodes.  Unlike the "no holds barred" political fare on cable TV these days that often resembles the food fight in "Animal House" Bill Buckley's approach was marked by civility and a serious discussion of the issues. I was a faithful viewer for years.  But as Lee Edwards recalls such was not the case when Buckley and liberal author and political activist Gore Vidal squared off for a series of televised debates as part of the ABC News coverage of the 1968 Republican and Democratic national conventions.  Fireworks erupted between the two of them that would rival the chaos on the streets of Chicago. Clearly it was not one of Bill Buckley's better moments.  Throughout his life Mr. Buckley continued to churn out books and speak at forums all over the country.  Anything to advance the cause. Buckley was also an avid yachtsman who sailed across both oceans. He also took great joy in his skiing trips to the Swiss Alps. Whether it be work or play Bill Buckley lived life to the fullest.

I must tell you that I was quite excited when I happened upon "William F. Buckley: The Maker of a Movement".  This book does not disappoint!  I thoroughly enjoyed reading about a man whom I consider to be one of the most fascinating public figures of my lifetime.  I recall a remark Bill Buckley made some years ago that Lee Stevens chose to include in his book.  It seems to succinctly sum up his utter disdain for the liberal elite in the land that he loved so much.  He mused "I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members at Harvard University."  I completely concur. Had he lived Bill Buckley would have been appalled by the crowd in charge of Washington today.  I believe that "William F. Buckley: The Maker of a Movement" would be a great choice for both students of history and general readers alike.   Very highly recommended!
A contempt for Communism, a firm belief in private enterprise, and an abiding faith in God. A contempt for Communism, a firm belief in private enterprise, and an abiding faith in God. A contempt for Communism, a firm belief in private enterprise, and an abiding faith in God. A contempt for Communism, a firm belief in private enterprise, and an abiding faith in God.

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