After Bill Buckley died, people who knew I’d once worked at National Review asked about him, and I always told them that nothing about the man was overrated. When you grow up admiring a lofty public figure and then find on direct acquaintance that he’s even better than the image, when you remember his personal goodness more than his greatness, that’s something.
My experience with Buckley’s greatest literary protégé, Joseph Sobran, was happy in a different way. To see all of that talent up close, as a colleague and friend, was a privilege. But, of course, by the time of Joe’s death on September 30, he was at no risk of an inflated reputation. And when people ask me if all they’ve heard and read about the man is true, the answer is no.