All Commentary
Monday, October 1, 1984

Book Review: Overdrive by William F Buckley, Jr.

(Doubleday and Company, Garden City, New York) 1983 • 262 pages • $16.95 cloth

William F. Buckley, Jr. is a man of many talents and interests and Overdrive, a factual accounting of eight days of Mr. Buckley’s life, makes a weekend’s fascinating reading. The form Mr. Buckley has chosen is especially welcome, since it reduces self-evaluation to a bare minimum—we see Mr. Buckley “as is.” Probably the leading conservative thinker in America, Buckley is a busy man—shuttling and flying from state to state for speaking engagements, dinners, editing National Review, and hosting his public television series, Firing Line.

Overdrive gives us insight into what Buckley considers important: among other things—careful attention to his correspondence, to which he is always ready with a witty reply, a full social life, a concern for his friends (he has a great many of these), sailing, and of course, his work. With all these endeavors, one might wonder how he finds time to write a column three times a week or devote so much interest to music. Buckley’s secret is to waste no time. Much of his work—columns, correspondence, editorial decisions, and telephone calls—is done in transit in the back seat of his refitted car. By the time the reader finishes Overdrive, he begins to wonder at the pace of it all, yet it comes through often and clearly that Mr. Buckley is a happy and fulfilled man.