Reviews

Saint William

Saint William? A canonization has occurred without prior beatification. A still living and breathing William F. Buckley Jr. has been elevated to sainthood. And by whom? Not by the pope and not by Buckley's own flock, but by a man of the left. And why? Not because of Buckley's continuing conservatism, but because he is no longer the same sort of conservative he was when he first began to make himself and his ideas known.

There is, you see, according to biographer Judis, more than one William F. Buckley. More specifically, a young "mahster" Buckley has "grown" during his nearly 40 years in the public eye. Or at least John Judis would have us believe as much. That Buckley youngster has stretched a bit, if not exactly filled out, in the years since he was Buckley Senior's good boy, Yale's bad boy, E. Howard Hunt's fair-haired boy, and Jack Paar's whipping boy. Does all this mean that William F. Buckley Jr. has ceased to be a conservative? No, but it does mean that he has become the sort of conservative Judis is able to tolerate, even admire.

Judis dwells at some length on the "reactionary" young Buckley, from the cradle through Yale. But the heart of his story is the post-CIA, post-God and Man at Yale Buckley who undertook the compromising and forbidding process of stitching together a conservative coalition from the "remnant" that was American conservatism...

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