‘Miles Gone By’: Bill and God’s Excellent Adventure

Jon Meacham, New York Times, October 17, 2004.


Then came Bill Buckley. Witty, deft in argument, willing to assert that the secular left had no monopoly on truth, he helped change the way the country thought of the right, beginning with his first book, “God and Man at Yale.” Published in 1951, it is one of those books people talk about but today hardly ever read. Its essential argument was that the loftier realms of higher education were increasingly hostile to religion and to conservative viewpoints. “I believe that the duel between Christianity and atheism is the most important in the world,” read a controversial passage in “God and Man.” “I further believe that the struggle between individualism and collectivism is the same struggle reproduced on another level.” (Interestingly, this precise formulation was not Buckley’s but his mentor’s, a Yale professor named Willmoore Kendall, who edited the manuscript. In part out of loyalty and in part because he was “tickled by the audacity of the sally,” Buckley writes, he never disavowed it.)

New York Times