May 13, 2013 | 8 comments
April 12, 2013 | 35 comments
March 25, 2013 | 5 comments
January 31, 2013 | 35 comments
December 19, 2012 | 7 comments
A beautifully edited half century of Bill Buckley.
(Page 2 of 2)
Half the pieces in this collection, writes Kimball, appear between hard covers for the first time; many others are from books now out of print. “A large portion of the pieces deal with matters of urgent public concern. Not a few tackle basic questions of political philosophy.” Given the mid-Victorian volume of Buckley’s output, and the great variety of subjects, Athwart History is a book of some bulk — although, Kimball assures us, considerably trimmed down from the first working draft, which competed “in girth with the Calcutta phone book.”
Bulky, but attractively produced and well structured. There are 178 pieces by Bill (the reviewer, being somewhat compulsive, counted them twice), arranged under 13 headings such as “Politics in Principle,” “Politics in Practice,” “The Raging Sixties.” Each of the 178 pieces is titled, and each has its own brief descriptive annotation: “Liberal Presumption — On the notion that a ‘central intelligence’ in Washington, D.C., can dispose of American citizens’ money far better than they can”; “Black Thought, Black Talk — On Senator Edward Kennedy’s description, ‘withered in distortion and malice,’ of Robert Bork’s America”; “Duty, Honor, Country — Looking at Iraq 2007 through the lens of Vietnam 1973, with a reflection on the people we abandoned back then”; “A Special Odium — On the extraordinary ferocity displayed by critics of Bush, and its possible effects on the democratic culture”; “Inside Obama — On the candidate’s soaring rhetoric-but underlying dishonesty-about what the government can do for America’s children.” By themselves, these annotations are well worth reading.
IN ALL, the selections and the finished product are a tribute to the editors, both of whom were close friends and colleagues of Buckley. Roger Kimball, co-editor and publisher of the New Criterion, is author of several books, among them Tenured Radicals: How Politics Has Corrupted Our Higher Education. Bridges, who like this reviewer was hired personally by Bill Buckley, came straight from the University of Southern California to National Review, where she has worked since, including 10 years as managing editor, a job for which she was trained by Priscilla Buckley.
In 2003 she moved to Bill Buckley’s personal staff as his literary assistant, a position she held through the last years of his life — one of those strong, trusted, highly intelligent women such as Frances Bronson and Dorothy McCartney who helped keep his life organized and his prose clean and flowing. In 2007, with this reviewer, she co-authored Strictly Right: William F. Buckley Jr. and the American Conservative Movement, a book that Bill’s sister Priscilla pronounced “the best thing ever written about Bill.” Bill Rusher agreed, as did Bill Buckley himself.
The next full biography of Bill, we’re told, will be by Sam Tanenhaus, the liberal editor of the New York Times Book Review. The deadline has been extraordinarily elastic, and some believe the elastic may have snapped, as it did with Edmund Morris’s incoherent biography of Ronald Reagan. Last year, Tanenhaus, whose biography of Whittaker Chambers had given him standing with conservatives, published a mini-book — a padded-out version of an earlier New Republic article — entitled The Death of Conservatism, yet another premature obituary for what Bob Tyrrell, in After the Hangover, called “America’s longest dying political movement.”
Hardly the logical candidate to write Bill Buckley’s life. But if and when he does, and, as seems likely, his book bombs, let’s hope the pieces are quickly picked up and reassembled by Linda Bridges, who in the end is the writer best equipped to write the full and definitive biography of Bill Buckley. There’s no doubt he’d approve.
But whatever the final disposition of that assignment, the editors have done a splendid job with this volume. In all, Athwart History admirably achieves its purpose, allowing us, to borrow a phrase from Mona Charen, to “rediscover whence conservatism got its élan — and its spine.”
Thanks to Roger Kimball and Linda Bridges, in these pages Bill Buckley rides up through the lists again, Ronald Reagan’s clipboard-bearing knight errant, shaming the pedants and pretenders, unhorsing the collectivists and statists, and smiting the ungodly.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?