Standing Athwart History: The Life of William F. Buckley, Jr.

Julia Shaw /

In its infancy, the conservative movement was a set of philosophically diverse, isolated camps, whose internal divisions enabled the left to deride them as intellectual weak. These conservative camps would remain divided and functionally conquered—unless an overriding event or an individual of unusual resolve and charisma brought them together. The catalyst turned out to be William F. Buckley Jr., a 29-year-old Yale graduate and privileged son of an oil millionaire.

Who was this man who united conservatism, creating converts one National Review issue at a time? How should we understand Buckley’s influence and his political thought?

Buckley could have led the easy life of a mere playboy: sailing his yacht and giving parties and skiing in Switzerland. Instead, Buckley chose to be the Saint Paul of the conservative movement, proselytizing tirelessly across America, fighting the good fight against liberal heresies, exhorting and when necessary warning the conservative faithful to mend their ways. (more…)