ON THE FIRING LINE: The Public Life of our Public  by William F. Buckley Jr.

ON THE FIRING LINE: The Public Life of our Public

KIRKUS REVIEW

Extracts from Buckley's Firing Line program, plus much sparkling new commentary. The interview extracts, drawn from the show's 24-year-old files, include joustings with such figures as Norman Mailer, Barry Goldwater, Timothy Leafy, Muhammed Ali, Margaret Thatcher, Richard Nixon, George Wallace, and George McGovern. Buckley groups the interviews into subject categories--"The Sixties," "The Impossible Guest" (Panamanian Demetrios Lakas, who evaded all questions for an hour), "Crime and Punishment," etc., each introduced and interwoven with retrospective reflection that, as Alistair Cooke puts it in his introduction, "restores [Buckley's] roles of district attorney, mocker, lover of the last word, and. . .confessor of grevious sins." There are shocking moments (Lakas stating off camera that "I'd just as soon fuck Castro as sign a treaty with him") and priggish ones (Buckley pointedly ignoring porn star Harry Reems, an unwanted added guest: "He deserved," writes Buckley, ". . .the ostracism that anyone deserves who makes his living by exhibitionistic obscenity"). Buckley also shows his less astringent side by tackling cultural subjects--e.g., harpsichordist Rosalyn Tureck's thoughts on live vs. recorded performance--and his less dogmatic side, e.g., declaring that, in his fight for conscientious-objector status, Muhammed Ali was a victim of the establishment. Vintage Buckley, sure to preach to the converted and outrage the skeptical, executed with maximum charm.

Pub Date: April 28th, 1989
ISBN: 394-57568-7
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1989




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