I will declare my bias up front: Richard Brookhiser is one of my favorite writers. He hits the sweet spot with me; writing about politics, culture, and history with equal skill and insight. There is a sharpness to his writing but at the same time a calmness; an ability to write about the details of the here and now but also keep history in mind.
So it is not surprising that when his latest book (Right Time, Right Place) came out I cleared the decks and read it. Add in the fact that it is about William F. Buckley, National Review, and the history of the conservative movement, and it was a must read for me. Look for my review later today.
As an added bonus, Brookhiser generously agreed to an email Q&A to discuss the book, his career, and the conservative movement. (Questions in Bold)
Had you always planned to write about your experience at NR, with WFB, and conservatism after Buckley’s passing? How did this book come about?
I knew I wanted to write about my years with WFB. Death was the wake-up call: now you must get this done. I spoke to my agent, Michael Carlisle, who said, write a proposal, and I remember thinking: It’s on.
Was there ever a moment where you thought I shouldn’t write this; or I shouldn’t make it this personal?
I never doubted writing the book, which I owed to WFB, myself, and the history I lived through. If you don’t want to be personal, you should not write memoir (you will also have a lot of trouble living, but that’s another matter).
Were you worried that some would see it as a cheap shot at WFB (as some have done in comparing to Christopher’s book)?
Right Time, Right Place is a book about love—what it is, what it feels like, how it can go wrong, how you save it. Readers who can’t understand that should go back to Dan Brown.