Patrick Allitt, The Conservatives: Ideas and Personalities Throughout American History (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009), 336 pp., $35.00.
Michael Kimmage, The Conservative Turn: Lionel Trilling, Whittaker Chambers, and the Lessons of Anti-Communism (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009), 440 pp., $45.00.
Norman Podhoretz, Why are Jews Liberals? (New York: Doubleday, 2009) 352 pp., $27.00.
Sam Tanenhaus, The Death of Conservatism (New York: Random House, 2009), 144 pp., $17.00.
IN OCTOBER 1951, Yale celebrated its two hundred fiftieth anniversary, graced by .the presence of the chancellor of Oxford University (who happened to be Lord Halifax, the "appeasing" foreign secretary of the late 1930s, and very nearly prime minister instead of Churchill in 1940), the chairman of United States Steel and other such dignitaries. But like Banquo's ghost, a shadowy figure cast a pall over the celebrations.
A "brash, brisk, indecorous young man," as one observer called him, who had graduated the previous year, now returned as a terrifying specter to haunt New Haven. He was, of course, William F. Buckley, Jr., who died last February aged eighty-two, nearly six decades after he timed that first book deliberately to spoil the party. God and Man at Yale was a magnificent display of ingratitude, a polemical denunciation of the author's alma mater for indoctrinating the sons of "Christian individualists" as "atheistic socialists," a succès fou-and a portent.