Books: Cocksure William F. Buckley, Jr.: Patron Saint of the Conservatives

Thirty years ago, William F. Buckley Jr. was widely viewed as a reactionary young fogy. Ten years later his critics were content to see him as a leading spokesman for conservatism and a worthy opponent. Today the editor of the National Review, TV host, columnist, lecturer, spy novelist and yachtsman is an Establishment celebrity admired for his charm but reproached for his unbearable lightness of being.

If Buckley worries about his public persona, he does not show it. Snook cocked, polysyllables bristling, he goads his critics by making everything he does look easy or, even more rankling, look like fun. There...

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