Two things drew me to this short bio of William F. Buckley: the author Jeremy Lott is someone whose writings I have admired for some time and the subject, WFB, is something I have been interested in since high school.
So when I was offered a review copy it wasn’t a tough choice. As soon as I got it in the mail I breezed threw this brief biography – and promptly did nothing about it. As with so many other books, I read this back in the summer but did not get a chance to review it until now.
And? It is an excellent introduction to one of the central figures of the post-war conservative movement. But it is important to keep in mind that it is just that: an introduction.
You can’t do justice to a man like Buckley in less than 150 pages. But this book does what this type of book should do: give an interesting overview of the life and times of the subject and prompt the reader to seek out more.
First of all, Thomas Nelson’s Christian Encounters, of which this book is a part, gives the books some of its flavor. Here is a brief description of the series:
Christian Encounters, a series of biographies from Thomas Nelson Publishers, highlights important lives from all ages and areas of the Church. Some are familiar faces. Others are unexpected guests. But all, through their relationships, struggles, prayers, and desires, uniquely illuminate our shared experience.
Lott highlights how Buckley’s faith informed/influenced and in many ways inspired his politics.
And the hook Lott uses to introduce WFB is one of a “prophet.” He saw America headed in the wrong direction and committed himself to calling the country he loved back to the straight and narrow path.
This makes for an interesting story arc particularly when conservatism seems ascendant and Buckley is less the prophet and more the man trying to herd the cats of the various factions. Lott doesn’t have the space for the details of Buckley and conservatism post-Reagan but it is an interesting aspect of the Buckley as prophet perspective.
In short: Lott’s short bio doesn’t break any new ground – we are all still waiting for a more definitive biography – but it is a quick and well done introduction to this larger that life figure in American politics.
Students or those looking for a brief introduction would do well to read this and then use the further reading recommendations to dig deeper.
For more check out Ten Questions with Jeremy.