If Not Us, Who? is both the story of an architect of the modern conservative movement and a colorful journey through a half century of high-level politics.
Best known as the longtime publisher of National Review, William Rusher (1923–2011) was more than just a crucial figure in the history of the Right’s leading magazine. He was a political intellectual, tactician, and strategist who helped shape the historic rise of conservatism.
To write If Not Us, Who?, David B. Frisk pored over Rusher’s voluminous papers at the Library of Congress and interviewed dozens of insiders, including National Review founder William F. Buckley Jr., in addition to Rusher himself. The result is a gripping biography, authorized yet independent, that shines new light on Rusher’s significance as an observer and an activist while bringing to life more than a generation’s worth of political hopes, fears, and controversies.
Frisk vividly captures the joys and struggles at National Review, including Rusher’s complex relationship with the legendary Buckley. Here we see the powerful blend of wit, erudition, dedication, shrewdness, and earnestness that made Rusher an influential figure at NR and an indispensable link between conservatism’s leading theorists and its political practitioners.
“If not us, who? If not now, when?”—a maxim often attributed to Ronald Reagan—could have been Rusher’s motto. In everything he did—publishing National Review, recruiting and advising political candidates, organizing cadres of young conservatives, taking on liberal advocates in a popular television debate program, writing a syndicated column—his objective was to build a movement. And he constantly exhorted his colleagues to step up as leaders of that movement. His tireless efforts proved essential to conservatism’s ascendancy, from the pivotal Goldwater campaign through the Reagan era.
Largely unexamined until now, Rusher’s career opens a new window onto the history of the conservative movement, its successes and failures. This comprehensive biography reintroduces readers to a remarkable man of thought and action.
About David B. Frisk
David B. Frisk holds a B.A. in history from Reed College and a Ph.D. in political science from Claremont Graduate University, with specialties in American politics and political philosophy. A former newspaper reporter who received a national first-place award from the Religion Newswriters Association, he has taught American government on the college level.
He Knew He Was Right - ‘If Not Us, Who?’ by David B. Frisk
The New York Times Book Review – July 6, 2012 (Excerpt)
On Oct. 8, 1961, a small group of conservative activists, businessmen and lawyers met in a seedy motel on South Michigan Avenue in Chicago. The meeting was assembled by three men — F. Clifton White, John Ashbrook and William A. Rusher — to develop a plan to draft the Arizona senator and stalwart conservative Barry Goldwater for the Republican nomination in 1964. As the group strategized, Frank Whetstone, a newspaper publisher from Montana, stood up and said while he trusted White (a resolute insurgent who masterminded Goldwater’s nomination), he wondered “where the rest of you s.o.b.’s will be when we get down to that final ballot.” It was a valid question. A previous attempt to get Goldwater the nomination, in 1960, had been a flop. This time the campaign would be serious. The men in the room, David B. Frisk reports in “If Not Us, Who?,” “pledged to stick with their comrades, whatever pressures might be brought.”
It was a formative moment in the emergence of the modern Republican Party. These “comrades” formed a vanguard intent on transforming the party into an ideological instrument, a project that Rusher, the longtime publisher of National Review, tackled with entrepreneurial cunning and indefatigable energy. With the exception of “The Making of the American Conservative Mind,” a penetrating study by the former National Review contributor and editor Jeffrey Hart, who views his legacy with misgivings, Rusher’s career has received little scrutiny. Frisk’s deeply researched and well-written biography fills the gap. [Read the full article...]
THE LONDONDERRY AIR
Testament of an Ulster Gunman A Novel by Garrad Gawler
It all changed for Charles Cunningham, a Physics teacher at the local College of Technology in the County Derry town of Maddenstown, on a June afternoon in 1973 when a bomb exploded in his neighborhood. He answers an advertisement by the UDR, the Ulster Defence Regiment, but, in the time to come, he will experience the consequences of his decisions, and how his involvement complicates matters with family and friends, Protestants and Catholics alike, to an unexpected degree.
With “The Londonderry Air – Testament of an Ulster Gunman” Garrad Gawler describes in minute detail and with an astonishing level of authenticity not only the inner workings of the Ulster Defence Regiment, but also the activities of underground paramilitary groups of regular citizens who planned and carried out the assassination of suspected Republican terrorists in their neighborhood.
We are the only country that makes guns, including military-style assault weapons, available to anyone who wants to buy them. This is not freedom. It is a tyranny of death and destruction — a tyranny of which the National Rifle Association is proud. The Washington Post
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