The Library Journal
Conversations with William F. Buckley Jr.by William F. Meehan III (Editor), William F. Meehan
Although recognized for founding National Review, hosting television's Firing Line, and being one of the principal architects of the American conservative movement, William F. Buckley Jr. (1925-2008) was also a prominent literary figure. At his peak he produced about 350,000 words for publication a year, and he was never at a loss for what to say or/i>/i>
Although recognized for founding National Review, hosting television's Firing Line, and being one of the principal architects of the American conservative movement, William F. Buckley Jr. (1925-2008) was also a prominent literary figure. At his peak he produced about 350,000 words for publication a year, and he was never at a loss for what to say or how to say it. He wrote over 7,000 columns, articles, reviews, introductions, forewords, obituaries, and more, in addition to publishing fifty-seven books of fiction and nonfiction.
Conversations with William F. Buckley Jr. features interviews from 1970 to 2005, in which Buckley holds court on a variety of subjects: the Cold War, civil rights, literature, sailing, and the many strands of American culture and politics. Throughout his life, he was a prime subject for interviews, as his observations combined raw intelligence, vigorous wit, and a healthy sense of humor.
William F. Buckley's 2008 death will surely lead to an extension of the already considerable Buckley bookshelf, which he himself populated during a career spanning six decades, years when he began the National Review, produced television's Firing Line, and godfathered the conservative movement that came to dominate American politics. These two books are among the first to join Buckley's own on that shelf. Buckley bibliographer Meehan has gathered 15 interviews from 1970 to 2005 for Mississippi's long-running "Literary Conversations" series. Readers who agreed with Buckley's politics and enjoyed his wit will savor the collection of conversations. Those who disagreed, and dismissed Buckley, may be surprised at how well they like him here and surprised again at some of his opinions, which address topics ranging widely from politics to writing to sailing to music to any number of other areas. Among his opinions, stated in a 1970 interview: "It is still hard as hell to find a young conservative with writing talent." The prior year he'd found Brookhiser, who had submitted an article to National Review, which Buckley published as a cover story in 1970 when Brookhiser had just turned 15 years old. Brookhiser, known for a series of popular biographies that began with Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington, joined the National Review staff in 1977 and at one point was Buckley's heir apparent; he is still a senior editor at the magazine. His is an engaging memoir of the conservative movement, of one of its engines (the National Review), and of Brookhiser's somewhat oedipal relationship with Buckley. VERDICT Meehan's book is a highlyrecommended introduction to a wide-ranging man, while Brookhiser's work is recommended for any reader trying to get a better understanding of the conservative movement in late 20th-century America. Recommended for all interested readers.—Bob Nardini, Nashville, TN
Meet the Author
William F. Meehan III is assistant professor of library and information science at Valdosta State University. He is the author of William F. Buckley Jr.: A Bibliography, and his work has appeared in Notes on Contemporary Literature, Journal of American Culture, and other periodicals.
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