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Right Time, Right Place: Coming of Age with William F. Buckley Jr. and the Conservative Moment

After the 2008 election, some luminaries in the conservative movement have returned to the drawing board to try and determine their political future. Many have mourned the loss of the William F. Buckley, arguably the intellectual forebear of modern conservatism, and the movement’s shift away from his core philosophy. Richard Brookhiser, a senior editor with the National Review, recently published a biography of the conservative icon, who also served as a mentor to Mr. Brookhiser in his youth. At 15 in 1969, Mr. Brookhiser wrote a piece that became a cover story in the National Review criticizing anti-Vietnam War protests. He later attended Yale and immediately took a job at the magazine, where Buckley designated him his heir apparent. Nine years later, Buckley recanted his offer and no longer considered his protégée an apt candidate to replace the magazine’s founder and editor-in-chief. Mr. Brookhiser’s Right Time, Right Place: Coming of Age with William F. Buckley Jr. and the Conservative Moment (2009), retells his relationship with his mentor in which, “[h]e engagingly describes Buckley’s simultaneously generous and aloof personality, his many idiosyncrasies, his enjoyment of his large and wealthy life, his preoccupation with his own fame and his attractive unpredictability in staking out positions on public issues,” (The New York Times).

Brookhiser is the author of several books, many of them about the principles and history of the U.S. founders. He adapted his biography Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington (1996) to a 2002 PBS documentary that he also hosted, and he is currently working on adapting Rediscovering Alexander Hamilton (2007) to a film as well. He has written for several magazines besides the National Review, including The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Vanity Fair, and The New York Observer, where he wrote a column from 1987 to 2007. In 2005, he received the National Medal for the Humanities Medal.

Mr. Brookhiser’s talk is jointly sponsored by the Salvatori Center for the Study of Individual Freedom in the Modern World and the Athenaeum.