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A Short, Well-written Introduction to the Founder of American Conservatism

  • Sep 3, 2010
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William F. Buckley Jr. (1925-2008) made American conservatism what it is today. He founded its flagship publication (National Review), organized its youth movement (Young Americans for Freedom), policed its borders (rooting out Birchers, Randians and anti-Semites), argued its intellectual superiority (Firing Line and his unsuccessful bid for New York's mayoralty), and promoted its presidential candidates (Goldwater, unsuccessfully, and Reagan, successfully). He also made mistakes (opposing the Civil Rights Act), adopted controversial positions (legalizing marijuana), and shifted with the times (regarding support for the War on Terror). Along the way, he somehow managed to write dozens of books (memoirs, political essays, spy novels) and squeeze in an exciting life (sailing the Atlantic twice, skiing in Gstaad, playing harpsichord with a symphony). Oh, and he was a devout Roman Catholic, although he sometimes had public disagreements with the church about this or that aspect of its moral doctrine.

Jeremy Lott's biography, William F. Buckley, is the most recent installment in the Christian Encounters series published by Thomas Nelson. Other installments include St. Patrick, St. Francis, John Bunyan, Isaac Newton, Jane Austen, and Winston Churchill. Lott's biography, like the series, is short and well-written, although a tad pricey for a paperback. It is a good starting point for those who seek a breezy introduction to the life of American conservatism's founder. The major downside of the biography is that it touches on Buckley's religious life ever so slightly, which is strange for a book in a series called Christian Encounters.

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review by . October 12, 2010
A far more satisfying "Christian Encounter" than my earlier one with Winston Churchill (Christian Encounters Series) was, "William F. Buckley" is a decent capsule biography of the man who had such an impact on American politics -- as well as on so many people -- in the second half of the twentieth century. Where I found it unsatisfactory were areas primarily due, I think, to the length imposed by the small "Christian Encounters" format: trying to mix the details of WFB's biography with a focus on …
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George Paul Wood ()
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I'm happily married to a maximally perfect woman, and we have a baby cuter than which none can be imagined. For a living, I'm the Director of Ministerial Resourcing at AG HQ in Springfield, MO. … more
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About this book


Christian Encounters, a series of biographies from Thomas Nelson Publishers, highlights important lives from all ages and areas of the Church. Some are familiar faces. Others are unexpected guests. But all, through their relationships, struggles, prayers, and desires, uniquely illuminate our shared experience.

"[B]efore there was Ronald Reagan, there was Barry Goldwater, and before there was Barry Goldwater there was National Review, and before there was National Review there was Bill Buckley with a spark in his mind."-George Will

William F. Buckley Jr., was the popular host of one of television's longest-running programs, "Firing Line," and the author of more than 50 books, but "his greatest achievement was making conservatism-not just electoral Republicanism but conservatism as a system of ideas-respectable in liberal post-World War II America."

Buckley started National Review magazine in 1955, at the age of 29, and quickly became known as the standard-bearer of American conservatism, promoting the fusion of traditional conservatives and libertarians. His twice-weekly syndicated column, "On the Right," was distributed to more than 320 newspapers across the country. Buckley inspired and incited three generations of conservatives-and counting-uniting anti-Communists, traditionalists, constitutionalists, and enthusiasts for free markets under one tent.


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ISBN-10: 1595550658
ISBN-13: 978-1595550651
Author: Jeremy Lott
Genre: Biography
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
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