“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.
“A delightfully readable and analytically acute biography of a figure central to the founding of the conservative movement.” —Rich Lowry, editor of National Review
“In the latest of ISI’s rightly praised series of conservative biographies, Kelly offers a beautifully written and moving portrait of L. Brent Bozell Jr. . . . A must and inspiring read.” —Lee Edwards, author of Goldwater: The Man Who Made a Revolution
“Kelly tells the remarkable story of L. Brent Bozell’s turbulent, crusading career inside and outside the American conservative movement, of the private demons that nearly destroyed him, and of the spiritual tranquility he achieved in the end.” —George H. Nash, author of The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America since 1945
“A wonderful book about an extraordinary person who was essential to the founding of the modern conservative movement. Readers will find it impossible to put down.” —Donald J. Devine, the Fund for American Studies
“This book should be required reading for anyone seeking to understand the place of traditionalist thought in late-twentieth-century America.” —Christopher Shannon, Christendom College
“A good biography of L. Brent Bozell Jr. has been long needed, and our patience has been rewarded with Kelly’s heart-wrenching and inspiring book.” —Donald T. Critchlow, author of The Conservative Ascendancy
Daniel Kelly (1938–2012) was the author of James Burnham and the Struggle for the World, a life of L. Brent Bozell’s National Review colleague. He taught history at New York University’s Washington Square College and the City University of New York’s York College.