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Brent Bozell. The book made the New York Times best-seller list.


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In , Mr. It proved it by lining up squarely behind Southern segregationists, saying that Southern whites had the right to impose their ideas on blacks who were as yet culturally and politically inferior to them. After some conservatives objected, Mr. Buckley suggested instead that both uneducated whites and blacks should be denied the vote. Buckley did not accord automatic support to Republicans. For President Dwight D.

Firing Line with William F. Buckley Jr.: The Problem of Illegal Aliens

It is now , Along with offering a forum to big-gun conservatives like Russell Kirk, James Burnham and Robert Nisbet, National Review cultivated the career of several younger writers, including Garry Wills, Joan Didion and John Leonard, who would shake off the conservative attachment and go their leftward ways. National Review also helped define the conservative movement by isolating cranks from Mr.

First carried on WOR-TV and then on public television, it became the longest-running program with a single host — beating out Johnny Carson by three years. There were exchanges on foreign policy with Norman Thomas, feminism with Germaine Greer, and race relations with James Baldwin. Not a few viewers thought Mr. Tell me, Mark, have you learned anything yet? At age 50, Mr. Buckley crossed the Atlantic Ocean in his sailboat and became a novelist. Eleven of his novels are spy tales starring Blackford Oakes, who fights for the American way and beds the Queen of England in the first book.

Others of his books included a historical novel with Elvis Presley as a significant character, another about the Nuremberg trials, a reasoned critique of anti-Semitism and journals that more than succeeded in dramatizing a life of taste and wealth — his own. Buckley generally avoided official government posts. He did serve from to as a presidential appointee to the National Advisory Commission on Information and as a member of the United States delegation to the United Nations in In his last years, as honors like the Presidential Medal of Freedom came his way, Mr.

Buckley gradually loosened his grip on his intellectual empire. In , he ended his frenetic schedule of public speeches, about 70 a year over 40 years, he once estimated. He wrote his last spy novel the 11th in his series , sold his sailboat and stopped playing the harpsichord publicly. He commanded wide attention by criticizing the Iraq war as a failure. He is survived by his son, Christopher, of Washington; his sisters, Priscilla L. Buckley of Sharon, Conn. Reid, of Camden, S. In the end it was Mr. Tell us what you think. Please upgrade your browser. See next articles.

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    Open to Debate: How William F. Buckley Put Liberal America on the Firing Line

    Please try again later. You are already subscribed to this email. Opinion Appreciations William F. News World U. Hendershot, a professor of film and media at M. Buckley, Jr. Buckley loved a good debate. He loved the free exchange of ideas and the meeting of minds in a good intellectual discussion. He was always respectful of his guests, even those with which he could find nothing to agree.

    He rarely if ever budged on his conservative views on morality he was a devout Catholic , government he hated federal overreach , and the economy he was a staunch believer in trickle-down , but he was open-minded enough to let liberals make their case without interruption or dismissal. The mean-spirited, vitriolic, anti-intellectual bent to those on the Right today are the very antithesis of the endearing, gentlemanly, scholarly persona that Buckley shaped in the 33 years that he hosted Firing Line.

    There seems to be very little space for political opponents to sit down and talk, without interrupting, shouting insults, or hurling chairs at each other. Restoring genteel notions of civility to TV will not provide a magic cure for all that ails us politically today. But Firing Line offers a model for what smart political TV once was. And could be again? Now, with the impending doom of a Trump presidency and a hand-picked cast of nightmares from the Washington, D.

    Caligari, even the pretense of debate is threatened. A free press and the First Amendment are the only things standing between the neo-fascism that Trump promises and hope for our future. When he looks at a glass, he is mesmerized by its reflection. If Donald Trump were shaped a little differently, he would compete for Miss America. But whatever the depths of self-enchantment, the demagogue has to say something. So what does Trump say? That he is a successful businessman and that that is what America needs in the Oval Office.

    There is some plausibility in this, though not much. The greatest deeds of American Presidents — midwifing the new republic; freeing the slaves; harnessing the energies and vision needed to win the Cold War — had little to do with a bottom line. Mar 04, Eric rated it really liked it Recommends it for: close-minded blind partisans. Shelves: books-i-own , american-history , modern-history , non-fiction , politics. For those of you who distrust news sources because they don't align with your worldview, or think that a liberal can't tell the truth about a conservative, or a conservative can't tell the truth about a liberal, this excellent and engaging book will open your eyes.

    The author, a liberal, provides a fun, remarkably even-handed account of Buckley and his Firing Line show. It's clear that Hendershot appreciated the show for its adult, civil political discourse, and especially how Buckley went out o For those of you who distrust news sources because they don't align with your worldview, or think that a liberal can't tell the truth about a conservative, or a conservative can't tell the truth about a liberal, this excellent and engaging book will open your eyes. It's clear that Hendershot appreciated the show for its adult, civil political discourse, and especially how Buckley went out of his way to invite liberal guests and genuinely wanted to hear their point of view.

    It's be nice if something like this could come around again. Sep 29, J. I almost can't believe how much I enjoyed this book. Doesn't matter! Heather Hendershot does a fantastic job of pushing no political agenda Buckley is conservative, Hendershot is liberal , but instead makes a plea for thoughtful political discourse on television that is missing since Firing Line went off the air.

    I may disagree with Buckley's politics, but I appreciate his approach to dialogue and preference for intellectual debate over agreeable bombast. Jul 24, Vincent DiGirolamo rated it it was amazing Shelves: finished , female-authors , non-fiction , It's already changed how I talk to Trump-loving friends and relatives. Hendershot has a flair for fairness.

    Mar 09, The American Conservative added it. Jack Kerouac, in a Firing Line appearance, would prove the truth of the maxim. We were at his Manhattan duplex, where he was collecting some material before driving to the studio where Firing Line was shot. His office was on the third floor, from which he exchanged copy via dumbwaiter with his sister Priscilla, our superb managing editor.

    I was needed as a last-minute guest on Firing Line, he told me, to give the program balance. Dec 07, Andrew rated it really liked it. I spent far too much time as a poor man's Alex P. Keating so Buckley material rarely if ever educates me. However, I flipped to the endnotes several times in amusement at being surprised. If you watched Best of Enemies, or care skit the intellectual history of public political media, you will enjoy this book, especially with this author as your guide. May 12, John-Paul rated it really liked it Shelves: political.

    I've heard lots about William F. Buckley in the past, but I've never read anything about him until I picked up this new book at the library. When I realized that the author was a confirmed liberal, I was somewhat hesitant to continue, as sure as I was in the inability for a liberal to give a fair shake to a conservative as many liberals are of the opposite.

    However, in a small gesture of trust in the premise of this book the reintroduction into our society of honest-to-God debate I decided to I've heard lots about William F. However, in a small gesture of trust in the premise of this book the reintroduction into our society of honest-to-God debate I decided to continue reading Hendershot does an admirable job considering our nation's present climate presenting a fair and balanced look at Mr. Buckley, a man whose mission though certainly not his politics she seems to truly admire. Sure, there is the occasional obligatory shot at Fox News and its viewers but they come along with a couple decidedly weaker shots at CNN and MSNBC, so there appears to be a measure of equality.

    The author breaks down her book by topics, spending a chapter on the women's liberation movement, another on Richard Nixon, yet another on civil rights, and the final chapter on Ronald Reagan, whose election in was Mr. Buckley's crowning achievement as the "Father of Modern Conservatism". Hendershot cites numerous episodes and takes special care to inform the reader that Mr. Buckley was interviewing people from all over the spectrum of the issues at hand: one day he might have on Betty Friedan, women's lib heroine of the left and the next day, Phyllis Schlafly, heroine of the right.

    He would have on mainstream members of the civil rights movement and members of the Black Panthers, whose views were only slightly alluded to even within the more "progressive" media at the time. I found myself looking up a myriad of different episodes on YouTube, and thanks to the Hoover Institute, whose Herculean work in archiving so many episodes of Firing Line we should all be thankful for, many a lunch hour of mine was well spent! Did Mr. Buckley have faults? Without a doubt, as Hendershot is quick to point out some of which conservatives would gently point out could be seen as virtues.

    But overall, the theme of the book is that the public discourse that Mr. Buckley strove to project on his bare-bones show has long since disappeared from the American media landscape, and its high time we saw to its resurrection. And I think or at least, I hope that's a sentiment that all of us, liberal, conservative, or anywhere in between, can ALL agree with.

    May 22, Caden Mccann rated it really liked it. After the devastating loss of Republican candidate Barry Goldwater in the presidential election, Firing Line arrived at a moment when the conservative movement was in disarray, and Hendershot details how, with his show, Buckley attempted to present a more refined conservatism - whether through his even-handed debates with prominent feminists and Black Panther leaders, or Buckley's efforts to distance the conservative movement from many of the actions of the Nixon administration.

    Firing Line would continue to air throughout the Reagan years and into the 's, until an aging Buckley finally decided to retire the show at the dawn of the new millennium. Personally, I thought this was a terrific book. Above all else, however, the book makes the important case for how the type of civilized debate featured on Firing Line is a lost art that needs to be revitalized, a message urgently needed in today's divided political culture. Oct 29, Kevin rated it really liked it. A fascinating exploration of William F. Buckley's long running public affairs show The Firing Line from the perspective of engagement with liberals and liberal ideas.

    William F. Buckley, Jr. | National Portrait Gallery

    The author is an admitted liberal and but find herself impressed with WFB's willingness to openly and honestly wrestle with the major issue of the day. Issues like civil rights and feminism but also political characters like Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan are wrestled with via not sound bites and shouting but through hour long con A fascinating exploration of William F. Issues like civil rights and feminism but also political characters like Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan are wrestled with via not sound bites and shouting but through hour long conversations or sometimes two hour debates.

    And Buckley was unafraid to give leftists and even radicals the platform to discuss and debate.

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    This was something the traditional news programs simply didn't do; and still is lacking in our cable news world. Hendershot clearly appreciates the fact that no matter where you fell on the political spectrum, Firing Line offered you the opportunity to hear different perspectives and learn from them. She also appreciates the fact the Buckley valued intelligence and rhetorical skill over simply agreeing with him. He wanted a spirited and interesting discussion even as he sought to win viewers over to his side.

    The author clearly has her perspective and isn't afraid to offer it, but her respect for and enjoyment of Buckley comes through and as a result you learn a great deal about the history of Firing Line and its approach to the political and cultural environment it engaged with and reflected. It is also an interesting window into the history of conservatism; albeit a indirect one. Oct 24, Rick Burin rated it really liked it. Hendershot — an unrepentant but open-minded liberal — delves deep into the archives to examine the story of Firing Line , the American debate show hosted by waspish, brilliant, perma-grinning William F.

    Buckley, which presaged the triumph of American conservatism. Pays to have a dictionary handy when reading this book Buckley used the English language masterfully and, to some guests, confounded them with his dictums.