Books: Right Time, Right Place

Basic Books, 2009 | ISBN 978-0-465-01355-5

Three books in one: a portrait of conservative icon William F. Buckley, Jr.; a history of forty years of American politics; and a memoir of a mentor, friend and surrogate father who discovered me as a teen-ager, tapped me to be his successor—then changed his mind.

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I was happy with what I had done, and when Bill [Buckley] asked me to lunch at Paone’s, I expected that he would be happy too, perhaps propose another idea. He did have another idea, but it was not what I expected.

We sat, we ordered. Bill came to the point. He had decided, he said, that I would succeed him as editor in chief of National Review, when it came time for him to retire. Bill owned all the stock of the magazine; that would then become mine. He would roll the news out gradually. I would have to become a senior editor, in a year or so; later I would serve as managing editor.

If I do not remember many details of this lunch, it is because I was overwhelmed….

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