Living on Fire: The Life of L. Brent Bozell Jr.
“A triumph . . . A moving, beautifully written biography.” —National Review
From the beginning, L. Brent Bozell seemed destined for great things.
An extraordinary orator, the young man with fiery red hair won a national debate competition in high school and later was elected president of Yale’s storied Political Union, where his debating partner was his close friend William F. Buckley Jr. In less than a decade after graduating from Yale, Bozell helped Buckley launch National Review, became a popular columnist and speaker, and, most famously, wrote Barry Goldwater’s landmark book The Conscience of a Conservative.
But after setting his sights on high political office, Bozell took a different route in the 1960s. He abruptly moved his family to Spain; he founded a traditional Catholic magazine, Triumph, that quickly turned radical; he repudiated on religious grounds the U.S. Constitution; he made it his mission to transform America into a Catholic nation; he led the nation’s first major antiabortion protest (featuring a militant group known as the Sons of Thunder); he severed ties with his erstwhile friends from the conservative movement, including Buckley (who was also his brother-in-law). By the mid-1970s, Bozell had fallen prey to bipolar disorder and alcoholism, leading life as if “manacled to a roller coaster.”
Biographer Daniel Kelly tells Bozell’s remarkable story vividly and with sensitivity in Living on Fire. To write this book, Kelly interviewed dozens of friends and family members and gained unprecedented access to Bozell’s private correspondence. The result is a richly textured portrait of a gifted, complex man—his triumphs as well as his struggles.
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