… to National Review, which turns 57 today.
I can’t remember if I was in high school or undergrad when I started reading it, but it was probably the latter — I’m pretty sure my high school didn’t carry it, so I imagine I found it in college. I definitely bought copies from the newsstand at the mall bookstore when I was doing my first tour of duty at Sears, one of my few luxuries along with video games and the occasional record album. While there were parts I thought were pretty cheesy — the poetry of W.H. von Dreele, most notably — I discovered writing with genuine wit and thoughtfulness that put the lie to the notion that folks on the right were typically lunkheads. In particular, I got a kick out of Buckley’s replies to the folks who sent letters to the editor, and it developed my appreciation for le mot juste. And as it happened, I also found cogent arguments that led me further to right, against the current of most of my peers. This deviancy became even more clear during my first run through grad school, and I found myself taking issues in the periodicals collection and disappearing into the stacks of the UK library; I would have had an easier time explaining being caught with pornography, had some of my profs seen me reading NR.
After putting the M.A. in my rearview mirror, and after I got an internet connection in the mid-90s at work, I discovered the online version of the magazine, and it’s been a bookmark for me ever since. And one of the things I’ve most valued about it over the years has been the fact that National Review has remained thoughtful, and provided me with solid arguments and considerable entertainment as it and I have stood “athwart history yelling ‘Stop.'”
Cultured while avoiding snobbery (most of the time, anyway), opinionated without demagoguery, and almost always a good, smart read, it’s been a good companion as I’ve made my journey into higher ed and into the anti-Statist Right. I’m glad it has been there.
Many happy returns, guys.