Living on Fire: The Life of L. Brent Bozell Jr.

( 3 )


“A triumph . . . A moving, beautifully written biography”
National Review

From the beginning, L. Brent Bozell seemed destined for great things.

An extraordinary orator, the young man with fiery red hair won a national debate competition in high school and later was elected president of Yale’s storied Political Union, where his debating partner was his close friend William F. Buckley Jr. In less...

See more details below
Hardcover (1)
$21.04 price
(Save 24%)$27.95 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (14) from $10.75   
  • New (9) from $13.95   
  • Used (5) from $10.75   
Living on Fire: The Life of L. Brent Bozell Jr.

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook - Digital Original)
$10.49 price
(Save 19%)$12.99 List Price


“A triumph . . . A moving, beautifully written biography”
National Review

From the beginning, L. Brent Bozell seemed destined for great things.

An extraordinary orator, the young man with fiery red hair won a national debate competition in high school and later was elected president of Yale’s storied Political Union, where his debating partner was his close friend William F. Buckley Jr. In less than a decade after graduating from Yale, Bozell helped Buckley launch National Review, became a popular columnist and speaker, and, most famously, wrote Barry Goldwater’s landmark book The Conscience of a Conservative.

But after setting his sights on high political office, Bozell took a different route in the 1960s. He abruptly moved his family to Spain; he founded a traditional Catholic magazine, Triumph, that quickly turned radical; he repudiated on religious grounds the U.S. Constitution; he made it his mission to transform America into a Catholic nation; he led the nation’s major antiabortion protest (featuring a militant group known as the Sons of Thunder); he severed ties with his erstwhile friends from the conservative movement, including Buckley (who was also his brother-in-law). By the mid-1970s, Bozell had fallen prey to bipolar disorder and alcoholism, leading life as if “manacled to a roller coaster,” as a friend put it.

Biographer Daniel Kelly tells Bozell’s remarkable story vividly and with sensitivity in Living on Fire. To write this book, Kelly interviewed dozens of friends and family members and gained unprecedented access to Bozell’s private correspondence. The result is a richly textured portrait of a gifted, complex man—his triumphs as well as his struggles.

Once destined for Capitol Hill, L. Brent Bozell wound up working in Washington soup kitchens just blocks away. Bringing mercy to the poor became his vocation—and, as Living on Fire shows, he succeeded admirably by the standards he came to embrace.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A delightfully readable and analytically acute biography of a figure central to the founding of the conservative movement.”
Rich Lowry, editor of National Review

“In the latest of ISI’s rightly praised series of conservative biographies, Daniel Kelly offers a beautifully written and moving portrait of L. Brent Bozell Jr. The story of Bozell’s rise, fall, and final triumph as a ‘holy fool’ among the poor is compellingly told. Living on Fire is a must and inspiring read.”
Lee Edwards, author of Goldwater:The Man Who Made a Revolution

“Kelly tells the remarkable story of L. Brent Bozell’s turbulent, crusading career inside and outside the American conservative movement, of the private demons that nearly destroyed him, and of the spiritual tranquility he achieved in the end. Written with discernment and empathy, this is an illuminating and deeply moving book.’
George H. Nash, author of The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America since 1945

“A wonderful book about an extraordinary person who was essential to the founding of the modern conservative movement. Readers will find it impossible to put down.”
Donald J. Devine, senior scholar at the Fund for American Studies and author of America’s Way Back

“Kelly recounts L. Brent Bozell Jr.’s remarkable story in clear and vivid prose. Kelly writes with great sensitivity about Bozell’s long and agonizing battle against bipolar disorder as well as his last, unexpected turn into true holiness.”
Linda Bridges, coauthor of Strictly Right: William F. Buckley Jr.

“Kelly’s detailed, well-researched, and well-written biography smartly examines how Bozell contributed to some of conservatism’s principal strains of thought, placing him as a founding father of the movement.”
Mark D. Popowski, author of The Rise and Fall of “Triumph”

“The story of L. Brent Bozell Jr. is an American story, a big American story, and one that should be more widely known. Thanks to Dan Kelly, it will be.”
Neal B. Freeman, from the foreword

Living on Fire presents L. Brent Bozell, warts and all, as a fascinating and complex personality. Kelly blends sympathy with cool judgment in describing Bozell’s impact on the lives of those he touched, and the painful ordeal of those who loved him most.”
Patrick Allitt, professor of American history at Emory University and author of Catholic Intellectuals and Conservative Politics in America, 1950-1985 

“This book should be required reading for anyone seeking to understand the place of traditionalist thought in late-twentieth-century America.”
Christopher Shannon, assistant professor of history at Christendom College

“A good biography of L. Brent Bozell Jr. has been long needed, and our patience has been rewarded with Kelly’s heart-wrenching and inspiring book.”
Donald T. Critchlow, Barry Goldwater Chair of American Institutions at Arizona State University and author of The Conservative Ascendancy

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781610170864
  • Publisher: ISI Books
  • Publication date: 1/31/2014
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 384,276
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel Kelly (1938-2012) was the author of James Burnham and the Struggle for the World, a life of L. Brent Bozell’s National Review colleague. A graduate of Yale who earned his PhD from the University of Wisconsin, he taught history for many years at New York University’s Washington Square College and the City University of New York’s York College.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 21, 2014

    This biography does justice to the man

    I should begin by admitting that my thinking has been influenced by L. Brent Bozeell, Jr. I've read most of his books, own a couple of his later ones, and subscribed to Triumph for several years. I never met him or heard him lecture. His colleagues Fritz Wilhelmsen and Warren Carol, whom I did meet, have had even more influence on me; even more so occasional Triumph contributors Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn and Dietrich von Hildebrand. All of these are mentioned in Daniel Kelly's outstanding biography.

    Brent Bozell was a great man with some terrible faults. Mr. Kelly does justice to his greatness without minimizing or excusing the faults. Conquering these faults was the titanic struggle of Bozell's life. In his final years he was an apostle and angel of mercy in the tradition of Blessed Theresa of Calcutta and Pope Francis.

    I have a couple of very minor quibbles with Mr. Kelly's writing. He describes Wilhelmsen as a technophile. That's half true. Wilhelmsen could also be a technophobe. He hated the mass production machine technology of the Industrial Revolution but loved contemporary electronic technology. Kelly also states that Auschwitz martyr Saint Maximilian Kolbe was of Jewish ancestry. I have never heard that about him nor seen it in biographical material. I suspect that Kelly may have been thinking of another Auschwitz martyr, Saint Theresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein). But these are minor points. Don't fail to read the book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 21, 2014

    Leo Brent Bozell Jr. is largely forgotten by history as he is ea

    Leo Brent Bozell Jr. is largely forgotten by history as he is easily confused with his son Brent Bozell III. But Daniel Kelly's slim tome does much to bring the elder Bozell's life and contributions to both modern Conservatism and Catholicism into focus.

    Making use of material published by Bozell throughout his life as well as private correspondence and recollections and anecdotes shared by Bozell's wife, family, and friends as well as other scholars' research from years past, Kelly's book is a complete look at the life and work of his subject. The gems of this book are found in Kelly's exploration of Bozell's personal relationships, with his wife Trish and with his brother-in-law William F. Buckley. Kelly, a fellow Catholic, leads the reader though Bozell's evolution from an ardent conservative fighting communism and statism to a fervent Catholic at war with the secular conservatism he formerly championed, and then on to the final transformation to a contemplative Catholic leaving behind such battles for a life of prayer and carrying out works of mercy despite his broken body.

    The book at just over two hundred pages is easy to read and hard to put down. Despite its brevity, the book is a complete work and its final conclusion is fully justified by the author's examination of Bozell's life. Five stars.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)