God and Man at National Review


Hard on the heels of Christopher Buckley’s recent memoir of the deaths of his parents (“Losing Mum and Pup”), Richard Brookhiser has published his own account of life with William F. Buckley Jr., the founder and longtime editor of National Review, who died in February 2008. Brookhiser is a talented and prolific writer, best known in recent years for a series of books on the founding fathers. But through much of his adult life, the center of his world was National Review. This slight but engaging memoir is the story of a young man drawn early into Buckley’s orbit who struggled over many years to bask in, and at times to escape, the aura of his famous mentor. Brookhiser grew up in a conservative but not particularly political middle-class family in a suburb of Rochester, N.Y. When nationwide protests against the Vietnam War broke out in 1969, extending into his own small community, Brook­hiser was a high school freshman. He was contemptuous of his fellow students who joined the protests. “I thought they were wrong,” he recalls. “I also thought there was something phony about the exercise, simultaneously preening and copycat.” He wrote a long letter to his brother (a student at Yale) describing his reactions, and at his father’s suggestion, he sent a copy to National Review — a magazine his family knew largely because they sometimes watched Buckley’s television program, “Firing Line.” A few months later, his precocious article appeared as the magazine’s cover story — the day after his 15th birthday.

more from Alan Brinkley at the NYT here.