I am glad to see that Thomas Nelson is filling a major void in contemporary Christian books. For the longest time, most of the popular Christian biographies focused either on sports figures (not that anything is wrong with sports biographies!) or on secular entertainers who converted to Christianity. Those biographies that focused on other parts of the Christian influence such as politics or art were so weighty, thick, and outdated that few Christians would put the effort forth to read them. Thomas Nelson has fixed this problem by offering their “Christian Encounters” series of short, accessible, Christian biographies. Most of these books are fewer than 150 pages and can be read leisurely.
This review focuses on William F. Buckley who was a powerful influence in the realm of politics and media. He was on various TV programs and debates and either wrote or contributed to over 50 books. One of the major positive aspects of this book is the interaction with the personal life of Buckley. This book does cover his wider influence but even contains portions of his letters to and from family members. The author, Jeremy Lott, also interacted well with primary texts including many of Buckley’s books (the final chapter of the book is a well-written annotated bibliography for further study).
If there is a short coming in the book, it the positive political slant taken by the author. At times it was difficult to separate the author’s conclusions from those of Buckley. Otherwise the book was well-written and informative without dragging the reader down in minutiae and historical baggage. Readers may be surprised to find that this is not an overtly Christian biography. The author chose to combine a focus on Buckley’s influence in the culture which was formed by his religious beliefs. Those who are interested in the American political tradition, broader conservatism, or the so-called Reagan revival will greatly enjoy this brief introduction to the life and thought of William F. Buckley.
This book was provided to the reviewer free of charge.