2/29/2008

Boston Globe Reports Buckley Skull & Bones

He came by such a manner naturally. Born on Nov. 24, 1925, in New York City, William Frank Buckley Jr. was the sixth of 10 children of a wealthy oilman, his namesake, and Aloise (Steiner) Buckley. A devout Catholic, he was educated by tutors and at boarding schools in England and the United States.

From an early age, he lacked neither opinions nor the willingness to express them. At 7, he wrote the king of England to demand repayment of Britain's World War I debt to the United States.

Mr. Buckley spent two years in the Army, then entered Yale in 1946. He was in his element there (he was chairman of The Yale Daily News and a member of Skull & Bones, the premier undergraduate secret society) but also deeply alienated. That alienation produced "God and Man at Yale" (1951), Mr. Buckley's first book. Its condemnation of the university's secular-humanist ethos caused a sensation - and established its author's reputation.

After a year in Mexico working for the Central Intelligence Agency (an experience that would inform Mr. Buckley's Blackford Oakes espionage novels), he returned to the United States. He wasted no time reentering the political fray. Mr. Buckley and L. Brent Bozell, his brother-in-law, published a book, "McCarthy and His Enemies" (1954). While not completely approving of the methods Senator Joseph McCarthy employed in his campaign against Communist subversion, the authors nonetheless defended him as heading "a movement around which men of good will and stern morality can close ranks.

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