tv A Torch Kept Lit CSPAN December 25, 2016 5:15pm-6:16pm EST
again if you want a nice crowd serve some food thanks for coming on behalf of the "national review" institute institute, is president and my fellow trustees of like to welcome you to the special conversation about an important book "a torch kept lit" great lives of the 20th century. i am the publisher of "national review".
[applause] the institute is our sister organization and nonprofit educational entity founded 25 years ago by william f. buckley, jr. and its mission -- [applause] its mission to the fans the conservative principles bill championed with the magazine to support national review best talent and preserve them promote to what the buckley legacy indeed it has formally launched of buckley legacy project and they are here to explain of plants in the last year the institute through the project has celebrated the anniversary of two important and lasting aspects of the buckleys legacy the 1965 run for
mayor of brilliantly captured in his republish campaign memoir and the 1966 launch of his marvelous interview program firing line. that is why we here today to discuss what bill of writer and specifically the observer of men and women public and private giants and small fries. before i introduce our participants, over 20 years ago, my predecessor to do nationally view of so much had a terrific idea, let's
published a collection of handbills obituaries and collected them all and consulted his sister who agreed that was a terrific idea bill could not say no fast enough. for a long time after we were perplexed. of ids was a sure-fire success. why? because we believe then as we believe now comment and as we see now through this marvelous book that's james rosen has admitted that among his many talents, this one where he remembered the recent date for posterity with deep insight and elegant prose would be embraced not only by national review leaders but the public at large.
bill knew what we knew so we eventually deduced he was courting them for his own collection and indeed he did sprinkle some in the ensuing books. but there are so many of these gems that the thought of the necessary collection remains valid over the years. along comes 2014, and along comes james rosen. through conversation of another idea that james raised i would fight to do a collection of his eulogies and remembrances and obituaries and are ip. what do you think? it was like asking me if i wanted a bag of peanut m&m's. of course. some did christopher buckley to overseas all things literary for the buckley
estate. so we were off to the races. the good people let crown for of also would read and now we have this book. i have not had this conversation with campbell but i cannot help but think he knows what we all those that although he left this eight years ago he still looms very large. the song will ask where have you gone to showed a maggio? likewise the conservative america asks the same about bill. there is a longing and appetite for his wisdom remains very strong. coming up next is a conversation about bill buckley a man of prose, who wrote history person by person through his particular talent. it is not a conversation
about politics, elections politics, elections, or the widthwise dismayed game if he were alive today what would he say? but at the end of the conversation questions will be entertained you will find cards on the table feel free to write down your question we will collect them and hand them to the moderator and pick and choose. for the moderator, my friend and colleague, reihan salam executive editor of "national review" and policy fellow at the national review institute. the co-author of brand new party. and has a book coming out early 2017 on immigration ballot for to the conversation about that book next. another friend, we are so
pleased to have him this morning is christopher buckley. his approval of this project and encouragement of t11 is though genuine and deeply appreciated. the only son of bill and pat christopher it educated at portsmouth abbey and graduated cum laude from yale the former managing editor from "esquire" magazine and founding editor of "forbes" a fight in knows a few things about books writing 16 as exceptional satires. i must encourage you to read his most recent ad is a marvelous novel that sets us on a shroud and if you laugh you need to go to confession.
went to bed alone last night because my wife was up reading and laughing at a 22 year-old christopher buckley novel. [laughter] i will round this out as chief speech writer to the president of the united states george h. w. bush and has received the prize for literary excellence and for american humor. last but not least the man who inspired this book and is as big of a contributor -- contributor can and that is james rosen the correspondent for fox news covering the white house, state department and reported from capitol hill, a pentagon, supreme court nearly all 50 states
and 40 foreign countries. his articles have appeared in the new york times, wall street journal, "washington post", "harper's" and "national review" this is not his first book he is the author of the strongman. band also cheney 101. friends of bill should know he is a walking talking buckley legacy project is knowledge about bill in his belief in his last importance and relevance and how we need to realize a immense power for good reside in the buckley legacy is second to none. it has been a delight to work with him and i
congratulate james not only for the excellent book he assembled bottles of for his own smart to perot's providing context in which all of his collected remembrances are set in "a torch kept lit" and on that note, ladies and gentlemen,. [applause] >> thanks jack for that kind introduction and also helping to put together this event i enormously honored to be here with the most distinguished writers and thinkers in america today. james, i want to ask you what on earth led a perfectly healthy person to become so obsessed with bill buckley and this project in particular? >> first of all, my thanks to all my friends at
national review and "national review" institute and for hosting this event. i feel like to be appear at all to have my name on the same jacket as bill buckley buckley, that is not just false humility it is 2 million with the times. [laughter] so i learned about bill buckley for the first time from the tonight show with johnny carson here was the guy who had a strange accent , a good-looking good-looking, seemed to be treating johnny as unequal. he was grateful to be there and on that occasion i tried to find the date of the tape i think it was around 1985 johnny said white whenever you come to this that i feel like i and in the principal's office? [laughter]
i said i want to be like that guy. so with the obsession my wife, this is my lovely wife. [applause] the unsung heroine, she has seen i have many of sessions and die and intense about them in the case of bill buckley i know so many people, christopher that have set the same thing i want to be like that guy but in any case the book began a few years ago are was writing for "national review" trying to find a particular piece that is called is nixon one of those collecting new the headline it was under 71 finally consulted a book called william f. buckley, jr. a bibliography published 2002
when he was alive as the annotated collection of his work and there i learned the editor of that volume said someone should do a volume of his eulogy's because there shattering work and i thought why not me? so i'm grateful to be associated with it. >> i was asked at of risk of one it is the judge could blurb but william f. buckley , jr. was the master of many things and this collection of obituaries into the cheese that he wrote over the course of his career care rated and
eloquently introduced by a james rosen may be well established him as the of modern man of this literary forum. i have read every single one of my father's books i do not exaggerate or propose that this may be his finest book ever. i mean that. [applause] >> i have read a lot coveys as they came out to. i was never failed to be moved. but it wasn't until then i saw of them all in total
that it came to me that i think this is william f. buckley's most beautiful riding. i think you started of about 250 obituaries and eulogy's published in "national review" for syndicated column bottles so including ford's f y i. >> some were delivered as actual eulogies. and i thank you ended up with 52? unlike my father. [laughter] if you mentioned the subway he would say what would that be? laugh laugh but on the way down i did a count of the of 52 in the table of contents to put a check next to each
person that he knew personally indicate now 33 out of 52 in these were pretty big people. >> including pat buckley. [laughter] in the biblical sense as well i am proof. [laughter] and we have with us the wife of one of the people, his best friend. [applause] but it is an extraordinary collection and posthumously of very good start because it is such a good book and
by the way the introduction to each of the 52 pieces are many masterpieces. you may know him mostly as box news television but this son of the gun can write. so in part because of james being a household name in tv land getting off to a brilliant start, he was gone already who gave it a nice review and something i don't you all what is going to amazon to check sales rankings. but i thought it was legitimate to check somebody else. [laughter]
and was never to. [applause] number two. i really don't spend time looking at my amazon sales. other than from megan kelly he said it is number one. [laughter] so mentioning that you pulled these from our rich source material so tell us how you discipline yourself and named recollection quick. >> thanks to those that crown publishing everyone needs an editor. they were great to help me focus so we found 220 eulogies and the obituaries
that bell wrote we had a whole section in the book that we had to excise just devoted to conservatives we did rescue a few of those like barry goldwater and cast them into the diaspora were they went into other chapters but what we wanted to do was break it down by people worth remembering presidents of the united states, a section for his own family members mother, father, wife and brother-in-law. and i like to say t11 is the only place in the world you can find milton friedman rubbing elbows with jerry garcia. [laughter] also in arts and letters speaking to his brought the of interest and intellectual
curiosity also john lennon and of a sparsely he was the eldest man and went to great lengths to write an entire novel about elvis presley. section for friends not everybody is a household name some may only be from friends of family but one thing about the book is the think he would not have caught the term genius but everybody that knew him. >> there is only one expert on this stage. [laughter] but everyone that i have spoken to has attested he had a genius for friendship and was very passionate about his friends and in
some cases over 60 years the last eulogy he wrote was for his friend they died within a short time of each other were friends 60 years and cultivated friendships and i dare say that to give this book to a friend will deepen the friendship ban last there is of section that is my favorite section because these are eulogies and obituaries of that he have done battle over his career mike algiers yes, john lindsay arthur schlesinger eleanor roosevelt and the fund in this chapter is finding something kind to say about these people but
these word pieces that were written on deadlines in situations as a writer themselves because he knew 33 of these people was often racked with grief and. he himself was morning these people in many cases and put together such brilliant prose about these people that he personally knew when he himself was suffering with grief that their loss, a man of devout faith as we all know and the eulogy which technically is not a part of the catholic mass he invented the patrimony that is passed down and conservatives
believe in the objective truth but that in view as to the writings as well. >> so i do want to hear your perspective, bill buckley was america's most celebrated intellectual but also a writer and the architect of the political movement and as such it occurs to me that one might be political how they are describing other figures. deerfield they would never pull punches corrects curious to hear your thoughts. >> no. it occurred to me world he was talking about gore vidal [laughter]
>> day it dinky would have done one quick. >> i don't think so. knowing about his history of the two may have seen that celebrated documentary of the famous exchange 1968. which precipitated a lawsuit . but to let go of board feet all the only time i have never mentioned gore vidal was the context of his delight of some witticism that was rendered that he was awarded election to the american academy and his
reply to them saying i already have diners club. [laughter] that was about the zero prettiest thing he had ever heard. apparently, i purposely have not seen the document but apparently gore vidal it came up all the time when he had friends over for dinner would ask if he would scream the famous debate in the documentary they used a clip of the movie sunset boulevard where enormous is sitting there watching her own movie. [laughter] but to james's point, even
as you point out, even in these categories struggling to find something nice to say. with the deep and defense of christianity. >> to say if people punches but these remembrances are strictly celebratory even the case of the of lionized figures and the people who are iconic in the conservative areas of the eulogies for winston churchill that he would seek a person james rosen 49 he celebrates the accomplishments of churchill's victory of world war ii but then fault him
for continuing to not have the stamina to prosecute the cold war properly with the result cut one-third of the world's people were behind the iron curtain but in today's landscapers of what we conceive of when bill buckley boat in remembrance for the assassination he wrote a column that was tough on martin luther king for his accomplishments in civil-rights at the same time condemning of the statements he made about america at the height the vietnam war and of role in the world in the war that were inappropriate he did not pull punches even when discussing people lionized on the right because that was to build intellectual
integrity. >> but just the sense some figures had become too big and celebrated in appropriately or purely get the record right? >> i think is the of latter. one of the themes within the of book within the general rubric of the relationship arguably the most intellectual of our time, it is a friendship bed dated 1966 and galbraith was of the way to the famous black white ball of truman capote the party of the century.
subject of peanut butter. [laughter] so that's after wind of the most important in political history why you wrote your call a ball peen abutter. [laughter] you don't understand to what i would write a column about period better bet you right economic textbooks and i will say one more time in the context and john kerry
in the friendship as part of politics today and is. >> so talk about bill buckley's interest in libby's surprising to those who knew him so tell us about his encounters with the world. >> bill buckley wrote a column on the ed sullivan show not just awful but god awful to go down in history with respect that was recorded as catholicism. i make huge beatles freak my
kids is middle names are 11 and mccarthy. >> there are a collection of writings about the beatles there is the tool and leisure committed a spectacular reversal of his career 99 percent of the credit is due in a column called how i came to rock 1968 that he acknowledgement there is exuberance of the beetles that is not match. and how they converted with the beatles but with the first column but later in
his career in their in is an intent to engage to know what it is all about who worked for "national review" and begins the column but i life. i lie allot played by the grateful dead i was unaware but he saw the deterioration of this young man and his reliability with the influence of jerry garcia on
account that was published 1971. and then seek give me shelter. but one wonders would see a document like that? but when john lennon was killed 1980 he began a column about it. and when spouting off protein christopher imagine if they were shot to death how would they feel? and buckley wrote to john lennon did not speak to me for those of us that were not moved by his work of
100,000 people weeping we must knowledge the grief is real so he had a real interest in pop culture although it did not speak to him directly. been on a commercial flight to copenhagen to geneva we were in the front row and guess who boarded the plane before takeoff and? i was 12 years old. and my 28 daughter now but sitting right behind us and her perfume.
[laughter] you are missing the point. and as a footnote that believe in at one point united states was going to expel john london and revoke his green card because there was the drug bust summer in the house. one of the boys. that is so rare. the it yoko ono came to see if he would write a letter on john lennon's 1/2 and he did. >> i believe it was
"national review" i dunno of that was uh tipping point with the letter for on monday bill buckley from a government agency. >> timeout. i minnesota news guy that is what i do for a living yoko ono visited the offices of national review? that is worth the price of a mission today along. [laughter] and. >> so a footnote that when johnson and was assassinated -- fascinating it and went
into an actual depression of a staggering event and that was set thereat uh dinner table and they would write a column that night and said why don't you write my column? i said i cannot do that. i'm sorry. so what he wrote was planted and attractively priced but it concludes but what i now realize john lennon has gravitas some day have the
evolution and the education of william f. buckley. in 1980. >> wanted to include this in the introduction by ran out of space. but in 1970 with the massively long interview to appoint he was at his most bitter and it is a landmark in terms of the literature of the beatles call them the biggest bastards' on earth and full of comments and bill buckley read the entire interview from start to finish with two issues of
"rolling stone" magazine. and he said that john london autobiography should be how wracked my life and how you can rack yours. [laughter] and i think if he had lived much longer he would lead look back on a lot of comments and with regret but but the '01 point used a number device number one or number two and that is certain point the way if he said something that he wrote to all the good songs but what struck me was the then bill buckley fell prey to be dole media because he would refer to them by there first names like paul.
but then the word ring go. >> now getting to questions from the audience are there any questions for christopher breaks. >> tell me again how brilliant i am. [laughter] so christopher indictable only met once before today and i should point out that at one point that the project may go for word and there was one eulogy that we look back that he asked to
be included. so there was no attempt at control. with half a dozen well-regarded biographies but it was of lesson in the title was the exclamation point at the end was shoot the widow. [laughter] as they enter take there first big part of work than they seek to control the narrative and christopher engage with none of that so probably speaking this my first meeting with christopher which is great for me and there were a couple of questions some san boy questions -- fame and --
fun to put a collection of those. [laughter] >> quite literally, dear christa would be spelled jkx4 parenthesis. i really want to know what you had in mind here. your kids are going to have to resend it. >> i actually exchanged emails with bill a few times. they looked like something, you know, sort of like the ones you're supposed to unscramble or whatever. ps, i'm not drunk, i just type
this way. which-- i was like, cherish that e-mail. did he give you advice about the craft of writing? >> oh, sure. sure. his first bit of advice, i think it was 14, he said, don't ever become a professional writer. he was -- it was a saturday, a weekend. then it was over and he was heading back to his study to, you know, bang out a 10,000 word article for esquire that was due monday. i did not take that advice. it occurs to me, another theme, with his gift, genius for
friendship, his genius for mentoring. i think it's accurate to say that the two great magazine editor mentors of our time were charlie parties -- peters, james fallows, michael kinsly. and william buckley. if you look at the people who started at national review, david brooks. by the way, do you know the david brooks story? he told it in a column. i think it was remembering the mentor. in 1982 -- 1983 wrote a book called overdrive, a sequel, if you will, of his best books
which he published in 1973 which was a week in his very busy life. marvelous way of doing -- he did two memoirs of two weeks in his life. the 19 -- 1983 was -- was not -- was not particularly well received. there was a little bit too much about the splendors, all the famous people he knew. a scathing brilliant parody was written by david brooks for the university of chicago newspaper. it happened the next week to be speaking at the university of chicago and so he's up there on stage and he reads this scathing
parody of his book out loud in total, verbatim and looks up and says, if david brooks is in the audience, i would like to offer him a job. david relates that story. >> i'm going to shame david brooks. he's a well-rewarded author, columnist. he recently gave me a beautiful handsome copy of the hard cover edition of one of bill's books called on the firing line which was he memoir of firing line on the show and autographed by bill buckley to david brooks. i don't know how that happened but david has explaining to do. one last point i would make about bill buckley's mentorship as magazine editor, i'm very grateful to have with us rich lowery, editor in chief of national review and i'm sure he too -- [applause]
>> my last question to christopher. unfortunately we are going to -- >> i have to ask two brief questions from the audience. it is often the case at the convention of writing of obituaries that they will be prewritten. that's a factor of the business. is that something that bill buckley will do from time to time? >> yes. >> ah. >> the obituary of eisenhower was written as eisenhower was dying. there were a few plays i really should mention. national review opened up digital archive. the hoover institution mentions the firing archives in california and i relied on synopsis and transcription of episodes and also hillsdale
college has the complete works of buckley, jr., each column and pdf form so you can actually see the typed manuscript that went off to newspapers and their introductions in the one for eisenhower, for example, where it says, if eisenhower has not yet died by date x, run this, if he has died, please correct paragraph 3 or so where he's speaking in a different intent. in fact, for alister cook who was a great towering literary figure and a friend of buckley for 30 years, he wrote three eulogies and obituaries and one of them before cook died and he sent it to alister cook who returned it to buckley unopen and unread. [laughter] >> one more question. is there one obituary you absolutely hate your editors crowned for forcing you leave out of the book? >> hate is a strong word.
there were so many worthy people that we had to excise and for whom i prepared introductions like daniel. >> as a matter of fact, i had wondered why that wasn't -- >> william sloan. >> again, why -- >> hubert you -- humphrey. >> if much of you go out and buy the book, you increase a chance of sequel. >> yes. >> did not have room to include. >> a torch flickering but not quite then. [laughter] >> please join me in thanking james rosen and chris bub lick for joining us. [applause]
>> thank you all very much for coming. i'm lindsey craig, president for national review, as jack said, we are grateful to all of you for your support so that we can bring programming like this. thank you to james for writing this book, we really appreciate it. christopher, of course, we love having you come to our events and participate in them. you're a dear friend and rahan, great moderatorring job. thank you all around have a great weekend. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
>> this is book tv on c-span2. television for serious readers. here is our christmas time prime time line-up, tonight mit film and media professor remembers william f buckley television program, firing line and after words, 9:00 p.m. eastern ellen reports on how new farming methods affect consumers. at 10:00, stevens, recalls working under seven different presidents and we wrap up christmas prime time lineup at 10:45 with larry talking about winston churchill. that all happens tonight on c-span2's book tv. >> so before welcoming our founder reed to the stage i want to say a few words about nick who received the american book
award this year for tomorrow's battlefield, u.s. proxy wars and secret opts in africa. he was unable to be here today. he's hard at work. we regard his efforts as a journalist to be heroic and put that go context in the waning months of bush-cheney in american politics, policy papers from extreme right-wing think tanks began to flood with recommendations that the emerging front on the war on terror, you remember that, was going to be in the con innocent of africa and so with that in mind, the united states government formed a central command for u.s. military
operations on the continent of africa. as obama succeeded to the presidency, the united states military has expanded across the entire continent of africa with the largest military presence in our nation's history, but this story has almost gone completely unreported. you can search through the database of the papers of record and you will find an area about anything having to do with military operations on the continent of africa but, again, to be clear it's the largest military presence that we have going, in fact, recently the so-called war on isil or isis which the department of defense calls inherent resolve to pick up on that, their website says that we spent $12.9 million a
day fighting just that campaign, as the dod, that's their number. they say we spend 174 million a day in afghanistan, that's just the aboveground number. it doesn't have to do with the secret operations that only diane can find in the intelligence committee, this is the overground number, right, despite all of this, there has been almost zero attention other than the work of nick on this issue and so i want to congratulate nick but i also want to urge upon you to look into this, to find out what this is about, ted jones, late ted jones, one of the titans of surrealism and among the first generation about the beat generation used to frequently
lament the lack of interest on the part of black america in the african continent. further, in the last month's -- last year or so of malcolm x's life, he made it his principal point that the struggle of african americans within the borders of the united states would not be addressed unless it was elevated to an issue of international human rights and this would be achieved through alignment with the struggle that was taking place in the african continent. martin luther king was also advocating a similar program so with that in mind, again, i urge you to discover this book, tomorrow's battlefield, and follow up on what's happening. i mean, 174 million a day, 12.9 million a day.
can't give you clean water in flint. right, can't give you funding for public school. can't give you tuition relief but can send $12.4 million a day to stretch fight against libya. okay, congratulations to nick and -- [applause] >> for extraordinary work, you know. >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. >> thank you all of you for coming here tonight. it truly is a privilege for me to introduce madea to all of you, she's the reason that i'm on all of these committees, i'm on all of the -- the reason that i am a part of the peace movement in fris know because in 2012 when she came to speak to us about her drone fair war, i joined the movement.
i no longer was that person that went to the bay area and i no longer was armed chair activists. thank you, madea. a little bit about her. she has been involved for 40 years, the small woman has a ine voice of equal rights, social justice for the entire world. is that better? no? i apologize. i will not start again. [laughter] >> so madea has received the martin luther king, jr., peace price from the fellowship of reconciliation. the marjorie kellogg national peace maker