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Typical CIA

Ken Follett

18 December 1980
Who’s on first 
by William Buckley.
Allen Lane, 276 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 0 7139 1359 2
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... of world-shaking importance, like the assassination of De Gaulle or the kidnapping of Churchill. William F. Buckley Jr. is a practitioner of this method. Who’s on first is about the Fifties race to put the first satellite into space. An advantage of the isolationist approach is that readers can cheer for Smiley ...
19 December 1991
Under Fire: An American Story 
by Oliver North and William Novak.
HarperCollins, 446 pp., £17.99, October 1991, 0 06 018334 9
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Terry Waite: Why was he kidnapped? 
by Gavin Hewitt.
Bloomsbury, 230 pp., £15.99, November 1991, 0 7475 0375 3
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... Intelligence Agency, Bill Casey, devised a plan for revenge. One of the CIA’s top agents, William Buckley, was posted to Beirut to implement it. In March 1984, Buckley was taken prisoner and tortured. Casey’s brilliant plan ended in the deaths or hasty flights of several of the CIA’s agents in the ...


Frank Kermode: Being in New York

7 July 1983
... Tom Nagel, the sociologist Richard Sennett, the poet Fred Seidel and the conservative sage William Buckley. I suppose Brendel’s intellectual and technical mastery is about the only kind to which sensible people of almost every description want to pay tribute, even if to do so involves a degree of ostentation of which the pianist himself is as it ...

The Idea of America

Alasdair MacIntyre

6 November 1980
Inventing America: Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence 
by Garry Wills.
Athlone, 398 pp., £12.50, September 1980, 0 485 11201 9
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... circle round the National Review. That conservatism would not exist but for the dramatic wit of William Buckley, a wit which has choreographed into a not too discordant and blundering ballet a motley cast of themes and characters. Wills’s lively account, in his autobiographical Confessions of a Conservative (1979), of the conflicts in a group that ...


Anthony Holden

6 November 1980
The United States in the 1980s 
edited by Peter Duignan and Alvin Rabushka.
Croom Helm, 868 pp., £14.95, August 1980, 0 8179 7281 1
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... attacks of such doubters as the present writer. I was recently taken to task (in print) by William F. Buckley Jr, the renowned conservative, for ‘chuckling especially hard’ at one of Reagan’s more esoteric pronouncements: to wit, that ‘80 per cent of pollution is caused by plants and trees.’ By way of ...


Michael Rogin

13 October 1988
Guts and Glory: The Rise and Fall of Oliver North 
by Ben Bradlee.
Grafton, 572 pp., £14.95, September 1988, 0 246 13364 3
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For the Record: From Wall Street to Washington 
by Donald Regan.
Hutchinson, 397 pp., £16.95, June 1988, 0 09 173622 6
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... that connected the President to the triumvirate of Deaver, Baker and Edwin Meese, who, joined by William Clark, ran the first term While House. These younger subordinates looked after Reagan; Regan treated him as a peer. Deaver in particular functioned as the Reagans’ factotum, but if he stood in for their estranged sons, he did so by reversing the ...

A Regular Bull

Christopher Hitchens

31 July 1997
Whittaker Chambers: A Biography 
by Sam Tanenhaus.
Random House, 640 pp., $35, February 1997, 0 394 58559 3
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... Bellow replied that his study had been English literature. He was asked to give his opinion of William Wordsworth as a poet. He responded that he had always thought of William Wordsworth as one of the Romantics. ‘There is no place for you,’ said Chambers on hearing this, ‘in this organisation.’ The future Nobel ...

Southern Discomfort

Bertram Wyatt-Brown

8 June 1995
The Southern Tradition: The Achievement and Limitations of an American Conservatism 
by Eugene Genovese.
Harvard, 138 pp., £17.95, October 1994, 0 674 82527 6
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... of Pat Buchanan, the neolithic challenger to George Bush’s renomination in 1992, and William Buckley, the acidulous Catholic pundit, while making us uncomfortable about longstanding liberal assumptions? This brief volume is not an intellectual ‘life review’, to borrow a gerontological term, but a solemn reflection on the philosophical ...

Bow. Wow

James Wolcott: Gore Vidal

3 February 2000
Gore Vidal 
by Fred Kaplan.
Bloomsbury, 850 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 7475 4671 1
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... partner of Amelia Earhart, who doted on young Gore), his serio-comic encounters with Tennessee Williams, Eleanor Roosevelt and Orson Welles, and his holidays in the sinister sunlight of Hollywood as a hired hand (there’s still controversy about how much homoeroticism he snuck into the screenplay of Ben-Hur – ‘I suspect that Heston does not know to ...

Pound & Co.

August Kleinzahler: Davenport and Kenner

26 September 2019
Questioning Minds: Vols I-II: The Letters of Guy Davenport and Hugh Kenner 
edited by Edward Burns.
Counterpoint, 1817 pp., $95, October 2018, 978 1 61902 181 5
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... In​ 1882, the year Virginia Woolf and William Carlos Williams were born, Friedrich Nietzsche bought a typewriter, a Malling-Hansen Writing Ball. It wasn’t as good as a Remington but it was cheaper. Nietzsche was losing his eyesight, probably as a result of syphilis, and hoped the Writing Ball would help ...


Stephen Holmes: ‘Bomb Power’

8 April 2010
Bomb Power: The Modern Presidency and the National Security State 
by Garry Wills.
Penguin Press, 278 pp., $27.95, January 2010, 978 1 59420 240 7
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... Before he became an outspoken liberal in the 1960s, he was a protégé of the arch-conservative William Buckley Jr. And, as Wills mentions, Buckley himself had been a disciple of James Burnham. Buckley and Burnham were two of the influential intellectuals who fanned the flames of ...
27 October 1988
... two shipments, the remaining foreign hostages would be turned over, along with the remains of William Buckley [the murdered CIA station chief in Beirut]. On 11 February ... Ayatollah Khomeini would step down. Just like that. And just so far does the mind of a Marine lieutenant-colonel go in the White House when he is under no serious political ...

Bugger me blue

Ian Hamilton

22 October 1992
The Selected Letters of Philip Larkin 
edited by Anthony Thwaite.
Faber, 759 pp., £20, October 1992, 0 571 15197 3
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... There is a story that when William F. Buckley Jr sent a copy of his essays to Norman Mailer, he pencilled a welcoming ‘Hi, Norman!’ in the Index, next to Mailer’s name. A similar tactic might happily have been ventured by the publishers of Philip Larkin’s Letters: the book’s back pages are going to be well-thumbed ...

It’s Been a Lot of Fun

David Runciman: Hitchens’s Hitchens

24 June 2010
Hitch-22: A Memoir 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Atlantic, 435 pp., £20, June 2010, 978 1 84354 921 5
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... of this puzzle when he recalls his experience of reading the memoir of his friend Christopher Buckley, son of the conservative commentator William Buckley. Hitchens discovers a line he particularly likes, about ‘bringing to life a circuit that will spare the republic’, but is horrified to realise that it comes ...

Top Dog

Geoffrey Hawthorn

6 December 1990
Nippon, New Superpower: Japan since 1945 
by William Horsley and Roger Buckley.
BBC, 278 pp., £15, November 1990, 0 563 20875 9
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United Nations Human Development Report 1990 
by Mahbub al Haq.
Oxford, 189 pp., £9.95, May 1990, 9780195064810
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Nationalism and International Society 
by James Mayall.
Cambridge, 175 pp., £25, March 1990, 0 521 37312 3
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The International Relations of Japan 
edited by Kathleen Newland.
Macmillan, 232 pp., £40, November 1990, 0 333 53456 5
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... of the world’s ten largest banks and the 21 largest financial institutions are also Japanese. As William Horsley and Roger Buckley observe in their vivid review of the past 45 years, it is not surprising that by 1983, the Japanese prime minister had come in from the edge of the photographs that are taken at the end of ...

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