The Corner

A Buckley Classic: Inveighing We Will Go

This is the beloved 1972 collection of Bill Buckley’s then-most-recent columns, articles, and so much more, captured at the height of his cultural power and influence. From his first-hand reports on Richard Nixon’s trip to China to an evaluation of Helen Gurley Brown’s Cosmopolitan, in Inveighing Buckley reflects on almost everything of current interest; the end of the Vietnam war; life within the Soviet Union (a famous WFB essay first printed in Playboy); accounts of Latin America, Israel, the South Pole, Ireland and New Delhi; a report on the kids, on disruptions and violence, on repression and reform; the politics of John Lindsay and Richard Nixon, of Senator Muskie and Pete McCloskey; treatment of pollution and conscription, busing and ecology; a look at the economy, at railroad reform and inflation, and Keynesianism and price controls, at the love affair between Kenneth Galbraith and Richard Nixon; a melancholy view of the decline of organized religion; and portraits of Lady Bird, Senator Buckley, Edgar Smith, Tom Wolfe, John Lennon, Clare Booth Luce and John Dos Passos; a look at Beethoven’s 200th anniversary and the new Oxford English Dictionary; a voyage to Rome, by the modern traveler. Whew. And all done in the style that has won Buckley the largest constituency of any journalist in America.

  Here’s what the New York Times (liberal) reviewer said about Inveighing:

Buckley has left the metaphysical chores to various deep thinkers and joyously set out to smite the liberals hip and thigh. And he is good at it. No commentator has a surer eye for the contradictions, the hypocrisies, the pretensions of liberal and radical pontiffs.  

“Inveighing,” then, in his natural genre, and this collection shows him at his best. It is not a matter of agreement or disagreement — I suspect I disagree with every one of his major premises except his respect for the ground rules of the democratic order — but rather that, even when you wince, reading Buckley is fun. On occasion I get a bit put off by his “conceits” (in the Elizabethan sense of the word); he gets too ornate, too addicted to esoteric words and quaint formulations.  

But when he is in really top form, that rapier can really cut. Perhaps best of all, the venom of his early years has been watered down to a sort of genial malevolence. He still takes plenty of hard shots, but the shade of Andrei Vishinsky has been exorcised. He still is a man of strong convictions, but when he cuts loose, one no longer finds the image of a firing squad lurking in the background of his rhetoric. Keep in mind the erroneous character of his major premises, but by all means go “Inveighing” with Bill Buckley.

We’ve got a Buckley-basement-stash box containing a dozen hardcover copies. Like some other books we’ve offered, not exactly pristine, but otherwise quite dignified (despite spending nearly forty years in the cellar!). You can have one of these rare books (enhanced by your knowledge that they were WFB’s own) for $75, which includes shipping and handling.

Members of the National Review editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

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