William F. Buckley, Jr.

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William F. Buckley

William Frank Buckley Jr. (born November 24, 1925), an American author and journalist, founded National Review, a prominent conservative political magazine, in 1955, and the television show Firing Line in 1966.



Buckley was born in New York City to lawyer and oil baron William Frank Buckley, Sr., and Aloise Steiner Buckley. The sixth of 10 children, young Buckley moved with his family to Sharon, Connecticut. He soon moved to Paris where he attended first grade and learned French. By age seven, he had had formal training in English at a day school in London. As a boy, Buckley developed a love for horses, music, swimming, hunting, story-telling, and the importance of his religious faith; all of which would be reflected in his later writings.

Education, military service, and the CIA

In 1943, Buckley attended the University of Mexico. The following year, he joined the U.S. Army and was commissioned a second lieutenant. When World War II ended in 1945, he enrolled in Yale University where he became a member of the secret Skull and Bones society (whose membership included such prominent figures as William Howard Taft, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, and John Kerry), was a member of Davenport College, and served as the chairman of the Yale Daily News.

Buckley graduated from Yale in 1950. That same year, he married Patricia Taylor of Vancouver, British Columbia.

In 1951, Buckley was recruited into the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) where he served for less than one year. Little has been published regarding Buckley's work with the CIA, but in a 2001 letter to author W. Thomas Smith, Jr., Buckley wrote, "I did training in Washington as a secret agent and was sent to Mexico City. There I served under the direct supervision of Howard Hunt, about whom of course a great deal is known."

While with the Agency in Mexico, Buckley edited The Road to Yenan, a book addressing the Communist quest for global domination, by Peruvian author Eudocio Ravines.


In 1951, the same year he was recruited into the CIA, Buckley's first book, God and Man at Yale, was published. The book was a critique of Yale University, in which he claimed that the school had strayed from its original, Christian mission. He then worked as an editor for The American Mercury in 1951 and 1952 before founding National Review in 1955, which he edited for many years. In 1960 Buckley helped form Young Americans for Freedom. Five years later in 1965, he ran for mayor of New York City as the candidate for the newly formed Conservative Party because of his dissatisfaction with Republican candidate John Lindsay. He finished third with 13 percent of the vote. In 1973, he served as a delegate to the United Nations.

Buckley is a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist whose work appears in more than 300 newspapers, and author of numerous books both fiction and non-fiction. His writing style is characterized by his strict adherence to correct grammar, strong opinion, and use of uncommon words such as eschatological. His stands have changed considerably on key issues.

Buckley is the author of a series of novels using the character of CIA agent Blackford Oakes. He has also authored several books on communicating, history, political thought, and sailing.

Buckley participated in a debate following the airing of The Day After, a 1983 made-for-TV movie about the effects of nuclear war. Buckley has consistently defended the strategy of nuclear deterrence.

In 1991, Buckley received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George H. W. Bush.

In June of 2004, Buckley relinquished his controlling shares of National Review to a pre-selected board of trustees. The following month, Miles Gone By; a memoir of his life, career, and love of sailing was published.

Buckley continues to write his syndicated newspaper column, as well as opinion pieces for National Review (the bi-weekly magazine) and National Review Online (the popular daily web version of the magazine known widely as NRO). He also lectures, grants the occasional radio interview, and makes guest appearances on national television news programs.


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