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William F. Buckley was a writer and political TV personality who helped make conservative politics popular in the 1950s-1970s.
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William F. Buckley founded the conservative journal National Review in1955 and added syndicated columnist to his resume in 1962. At its height, the twice-weekly column ran in more than 300 newspapers. The magazine, columns and TV’s Firing Line all made Buckley's intellectual political writings famous. His 40 books dealt with contemporary politics, and in the 1970s he turned to writing spy novels.
"Before Ronald Reagan, there was Barry Goldwater, and before Barry Goldwater there was National Review, and before there was National Review, there was Bill Buckley."
Writer. William Frank Buckley, Jr. was born into a wealthy Irish-Catholic family on Nov. 24, 1925 in New York City. He was the sixth of 10 children. His father was an oil baron, with holdings in seven countries. Buckley spent his early childhood in France and England.
After briefly attending the University of Mexico, he served two years stateside in the U.S. Army during World War II. He reached the rank of second lieutenant and was a member of Franklin Roosevelt's honor guard when the president died in April 1945.
After the war, Buckley entered Yale, becoming chairman of the Yale Daily News. He also joined the secretive Skull & Bones society and was a star debater. Buckley studied political science, history and economics at Yale, graduating with honors in 1950.
His first book God and Man at Yale (1951) condemned his alma mater for straying from its Christian roots, claiming the faculty was bent on secularism, collectivism and Keynesian economics over individualism and free market capitalism.
Buckley was recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency, serving in Mexico for nine months in 1951.
A brief stint as an associate editor for The American Mercury magazine, Buckley founded the conservative journal National Review.
"It stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it," read the publisher's statement in the first issue on November 19, 1955.
Buckley added syndicated columnist to his resume in 1962. At its height, the twice-weekly column ran in more than 300 newspapers.
In 1965, Buckley ran for mayor of New York on the Conservative Party ticket. He received only 13.4 percent of the vote, but the bid led to a gig as host of TV's Firing Line in 1966. The debate program, featuring a slouching Buckley carrying a clipboard, gave birth to television punditry and aired until 1999.
The magazine, columns and TV show all made Buckley's intellectual political writings famous. His personal charm, dash, wit and energy defied the traditional image of a conservative. And many credit him for popularizing conservatism in post-New Deal America.
"Before Ronald Reagan, there was Barry Goldwater, and before Barry Goldwater there was National Review, and before there was National Review, there was Bill Buckley," wrote conservative columnist George Will for the National Review's 25th anniversary edition.
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