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Buckley’s book, Flying High, is much more a memoir of the conservative movement in the early 1960s than it is a biography of Goldwater. As with almost everything Buckley wrote, the book becomes autobiographical on page one. Buckley has a number of great stories about various individuals in his circle: Charles Manion, a law professor at Notre Dame, Suzanne Lafollette, a former editor for Albert Jay Nock; James Burnham and Frank Meyer, former communists turned conservatives.
Buckley discuss Ronald Reagan’s famous television defense of Goldwater, “A Time for Choosing”. He says William Baroody the leader of the American Enterprise Institute wanted to ignore or condemn Reagan as he feared Reagan’s influence on the movement, directing monetary resources away from Baroody’s control.
Buckley never states it explicitly, but it becomes clear that the Goldwater movement suffered from the same ills as all anti-statist movements: a division between and with traditionalist, libertarians, and the militarist camps.
Reading Buckley always has me scrambling for the dictionary. Brent Barry narrated the book.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
I purchased this book because references to it by Christopher Buckley in his touching (and hilarious) book “Losing Mum and Pup.” “Flying High” was the last book published by WFB. “Christo” assisted in typing and editing the final draft. I wanted to know more about what WFB was thinking during his final days.
The casual reader might infer from the title (so similar to Buckley’s sailing memoirs “Airborne” and “Atlantic High”) that the book consists of personal anecdotes about travels with Goldwater, perhaps while sailing or flying in Goldwater’s private plane. To the contrary, Goldwater himself plays but a peripheral role in the book. The real focus of the book falls on Buckley’s Yale debating partner and member of the National Review editorial staff, L. Brent Bozell, Jr.. Bozell is revealed to have been the ghostwriter of Goldwater’s book “The Conscience of a Conservative.”
This book is primarily an appreciation and exegesis of “The Conscience of a Conservative” together with recollections of how Buckley and his associates at National Review influenced the Republican platform in 1964 and how their views were ultimately vindicated by the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. The book is sometimes interesting, occasionally (very occasionally) compelling, but mostly dated and of little relevance to the current national debate.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful