Principalities & Powers

In Search of Impulses

Some years ago, there was a scries on American television called In Search Of . . . , a documentary show that every week embarked upon some intrepid quest "in search of" such titillating arcana as the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, Flying Saucers, table-rapping, and people who turn into giant mushrooms in the dark of the moon. William F. Buckley Jr. probably never watched the series, but it is impossible to think of his most recent book. In Search of Anti-Semitism, without being reminded of it, and not only because of the similarity of the titles.

His book, of course, is the hardcover incarnation of the mammoth article that devoured the entirety of the December 30, 1991, issue of National Review and a portion of its March 16, 1992, number, "In Search of Anti-Semitism" (the article) was an examination of the "cases" of various individuals who had been accused of anti-Semitism in the recent past—specifically, Joseph Sobran, Mr. Buckley's "close friend" and colleague at National Review; the Dartmouth Review, an undergraduate magazine; columnist and commentator Patrick J. Buchanan; and novelist Gore Vidal. After winding his way through the published remarks that had instigated the accusations, the accusations themselves, and the defenses offered by the accused and their supporters, Mr. Buckley reached various conclusions and offered sundry meditations of...

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