Kevin M. Schultz

Buckley and Mailer

The Difficult Friendship that Shaped the Sixties

W. W. Norton 2015

New Books in African American StudiesNew Books in American StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Intellectual HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network June 2, 2015 Lilian Calles Barger

In Buckley and Mailer: The Difficult Friendship that Shaped the Sixties (W.W. Norton, 2015), Kevin M. Schultz has given us a lively and colorful...

In Buckley and Mailer: The Difficult Friendship that Shaped the Sixties (W.W. Norton, 2015), Kevin M. Schultz has given us a lively and colorful narrative history that captures the character of two complex men and the times in which they lived. Juxtaposing a conservative William F. Buckley Jr. and the radical Norman Mailer against a liberal establishment brings into sharp relief what the men shared and the source of their conflict. Both men agreed that there was something amiss of about American society and sought to build a movement against the entrenchment of liberal bureaucratic control and the threat of totalitarianism. With clashing visions for a new national politic, they were both surprised by the constituency that they each attracted and grew more alike as they responded to the movements they had fomented. Through their writings, public and private encounters, and an overlapping network of friends and political acquaintances we get a glimpse in the elite power dynamics that shaped the sixties. By attending to a flurry of lectures, debates, parties, letters, and the striking personalities of these two men, Schultz shows us was right and wrong with America at mid-century and the transition from a rules based to a rights based society. The relationship of Buckley and Mailer not only reflected the nation’s struggles in the sixties, but also captures the continual conflict over the future of America.

Kevin M. Shultz is an associated professor of history at University of Illinois at Chicago.

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