Review – Kirkus

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January 27, 1969
ODYSSEY OF A FRIEND: Letters to William F. Buckley, Jr. 1954-1961
By Whittaker Chambers

A first edition of these letters appeared under the National Review imprint and for those interested in the post-Witness and failing last years of the self-styled “tired counterrevolutionist,” they receive a relatively full accounting. Chambers, the repentant patriot, is generally dispirited throughout — sometimes sinking into a Dostoevskyan gloom — he speaks of “splashing about in my private pool of ice water” and refers to these letters as a “fortnightly howl.” Sometimes he wonders why “I must go on living” which he did for the decade following his notable-notorious book. After declining he later joined the staff of Buckley‘s National Review although serving only as an occasional contributor. The letters are quite interesting when dealing with his thoughts on the literary scene (Pasternak or Colin Wilson) or the political — his views of the Right and the Conservative Position; his unwillingness to let the “Liberals, by default, preempt the humane and intellectually sound position.” Remarks on the Hiss case are frequent particularly in the beginning during the time of Hiss’ release and a foreword by Ralph de Toledano reviews the particulars thereof. Still one wonders just who is interested in Chambers today although he was always a very verbal commentator — even prophetic — “I believe that Richard Nixon may have some of what it takes.”


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