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Publisher's Summary

In this autobiography, woven from personal pieces composed over the course of a celebrated writing life of more than 50 years, you'll meet William Buckley the boy, growing up in a family of 10 children; Buckley the daring young political enfant terrible, whose debut book, God and Man at Yale, was a shocking New York Times best seller; Buckley the editor of National Review, widely hailed as the founder of the modern conservative movement; Buckley the husband and father; Buckley the spy and novelist of spies; and Buckley the bon vivant. You'll also meet Buckley's friends: Ronald Reagan, Henry Kissinger, Clare Boothe Luce, Tom Wolfe, John Kenneth Galbraith, David Niven, and many others.
Along the way, the listener will be treated to Buckley's romance with wine, his love of the right word, his intoxication with music, and his joy in skiing and travel.
©2004 William F. Buckley, Jr. (P)2005 Blackstone Audiobooks
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Biff on 09-17-08

Insight into Mr. Buckley

Bill Buckley has been a titan of political thought for the last half century and was seminal to my own adult political formation. Therefore, my personal veneration of the man may lend to a biased view of this book. That said, because this book is actually a conglomeration of previously published material, it occasionally suffers from a lack of flow. However, if you are interested in the man himself, then this book is for you. The fact that it is narrated by the author, adds greatly to the experience. While there are passages on subjects that I would not consider cynosure (I am not a sailor and am not particularly interested in that pastime), I still give the audio book a 5-star rating based on the overall experience.

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Cletus van Damme on 10-12-10


I knew of Buckley from his appearances on Firing Line, his newspaper columns, and occasional speeches and essays. I read this book immediately upon concluding Christopher Buckley's "Losing Mum and Pup" to see why Christo (if I may be so familiar) was so fond of his father. The book is a series of, for the most part, apolitical essays about life -- interesting people he has known, places he has traveled, and his two favorite outdoor pursuits, sailing and skiing. He shows himself to have been warm, witty, considerate, and a boon companion on his adventures. I found myself wishing the book could go on and on. Having the author narrate a personal book like this is helpful because he can add an arch tone to suggest a humorous jab that might be missed by the casual reader. Doubtless my favorite story was about the "Angel of Craig's Point," about which I will say no more. Read the book. I intend to read more of his work. I also see where Christopher got his wicked sense of humor. Great book, particularly for those not familiar with his body of work. The cover photo is a poor choice -- it makes Buckley appear weak, querulous, and pensive, qualities which simply don't exist in the book.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Amazon Customer on 07-02-18

Witty and illuminating

I am not a conservative, but I love William F. Buckley. His insights - and soothing voice in the self-narrated audiobook - are worth hearing.

This semiautobiography is organized as a collection of essays and textual fragments gathered from his long and illustrious career. Some of the bits are more interesting than others, but the sheer scope of the material, combined with a firm editorial hand, makes for an epic journey without much extra fluff.

I said without much. Were I blessed with any interest in sailing, I would have given this book five stars. The passion comes through, but so does the obsession. Like the ocean itself, it's too big for its own good, skipper. I'd say skip it.

My favourite bits include the recollections of his childhood and adolescence, the intriguing saga of the divisive university politics at Yale, the passionate love letter to wine, the transcript of the famous Panama debate with Reagan, the copious pages of political and literary gossip, and the amusing asides on a dozen trivialities enlivened with wit and irony. All of it is served with honey; on nigh every page you can taste the sweet and unswerving devotion, by Mr. Buckley, to mastering the peculiar manners, the power and the vocabulary of the English tongue.

Buckley is no saint. While I loathe his Catholic mysticism and warmongering apologetics, there is no conservative I'd rather have around today. He was never anything less than idealistic. He was deadly precise in his reactionary fervour and always honest in his dealings, which gave progressives some healthy target practice - and a good model to emulate on the other side.

Being dangerous enough to be taken seriously is already an impressive, lasting legacy, but this is not the best engraving on his tombstone. No. Buckley's greatest contribution, I believe, was his cultivation, by word and deed, of the power of reasoned debate.

He showed us that there is no controversy that cannot be made more tolerable by being placed on the Firing Line. Without "frenemies" like him to keep us straight, the endangered art of civility will sink to the sea with the Titanic and Atlantis.

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