Norman Mailer and William F. Buckley, Jr., were towering figures who argued publicly about every major issue of the 1960s: the counterculture, Vietnam, feminism, civil rights, the Cold War. Behind the scenes, the two were close friends and trusted confidantes who lived surprisingly parallel lives. In Buckley and Mailer, historian Kevin M. Schultz delves into their personal archives to tell the rich story of their friendship, arguments, and the tumultuous decade they did so much to shape.
From their Playboy-sponsored debate before the Patterson-Liston heavyweight fight in 1962 to their campaigns for mayor of New York City to their confrontations at Truman Capote's Black-and-White Ball, over the March on the Pentagon, and at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, Schultz delivers a fresh chronicle of the '60s and its long aftermath, as well as an entertaining work of narrative history that explores these extraordinary figures' contrasting visions of America and the future.
"One might think that Bill Buckley and Norman Mailer were not at all alike, but Kevin M. Schultz, in his very entertaining book, reminds us to think again. In fact, despite their complicated political differences, these two American originals liked each other, tried to understand each other, and discovered that that they had much in common: a passion for engagement, for literate expression, and perhaps above all the pleasure they took in playing their outsize selves." (Jeffrey Frank, best-selling author of Ike and Dick)
"Kevin M. Schultz has written a sexy, funny, and deliriously good book about two unlikeliest of friends. It will not only change the way that you see Buckley and Mailer, which would be accomplishment enough. It'll also change the way you understand the Sixties." (David Sehat, author of The Jefferson Rule)
"Riveting. In this superbly written account of two of the most fascinating and important 20th-century American intellectuals, Kevin M. Schultz not only brings the spirits of William Buckley and Norman Mailer back to life, he endows us with a subtle yet profound analytical framework for understanding the massive social changes set off during the Sixties. Anyone who wants to understand contemporary American political culture needs to read this book." (Andrew Hartman, author of A War for the Soul of America)
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Great historical insight and candor on subject
Yes, because it provides a fantastic foundation to better understand the shaping of America's political and cultural atmosphere the lead into our current day. This book adeptly and entertainingly elucidates the pivotal and revolutionary '50s thru '70s era that Buckley and Mailer figure-headed and helped to shape.
Though the book was read with a professional and sophisticated aire, I wasn't crazy about what I felt was a Buckley-esque stylized delivery. I feel the book would have been better conveyed with a more neutral reading, as is common with purely historical books, for instance.
I would really enjoy Kevin Schultz taking his adroit, informed and entertaining writing style into the culture, politics and topics of present-day America in 2015. I'm looking forward to his next book.