Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Getting It Right

Last Wednesday William F. Buckley Jr. died. After reading many obituaries of him, I thought I'd add my own small homage.

I suppose my most enduring memories of him are watching his program "Firing Line" on OPB in the 80s, most notably his interviews of Malcolm Muggeridge and American philosopher Mortimer Adler. It was in those programs that I began to understand that there was so much more to Buckley than his curious and sometimes off-putting pedantry and Ivy League accent.

When I finally began to read National Review Online in 2001 as one of my daily news sources, I always read Buckley's columns, but I had never read one of his books until a couple of years ago when one of his fiction titles caught my eye at the library. I was unaware that he had ever written fiction and my curiosity was piqued. The book was called Getting It Right, an historical fiction of the birth of the modern American conservative movement at the time of Barry Goldwater's presidential campaign. It features such "real" characters as Goldwater, Ayn Rand, Alan Greenspan (who, at the time, was a Rand acolyte)--and even Buckley himself--as told through the eyes of two fictional lovers, one a John Bircher and the other a Rand disciple.

Many of the obituaries of Buckley have correctly placed him as one, if not the, prime shapers of the American conservative movement. If you're at all skeptical of this fact, or are just hazy about the history of conservatism in America, let me recommend Getting It Right as an enjoyable way of bringing you up to speed.

God bless you, Mr. Buckley.