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Miles Gone By: A Literary Autobiography

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  381 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews

Here is a unique collection of fifty years of essays chosen to form an unconventional autobiography and capstone to his remarkable career as the conservative writer par excellence. Included are essays that capture Buckley's joyful boyhood and family life; his years as a conservative firebrand at Yale; the life of a young army officer; his love of wine and sailing; memories
Paperback, 594 pages
Published August 1st 2005 by Regnery Publishing (first published June 1st 2004)
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Brent Jones
Mar 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Miles Gone By" seems to be a near complete biography and one that allows the reader to see how the puzzle fits together. It would be easy to overlook the uniqueness of this life by labeling the author as mostly reflecting a political point of view. He has shown in many of his other books his diversity of interests and his ability to inform his readers about activities and the events taking place in the world at the same time. I remember in his book "Racing Through Paradise how much I learned ab ...more
Jen B
May 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Buckley is one of the few authors whose writing is capable of making anything, anything at all, interesting to the reader. This literary autobiography, as he entitled it, is a delightful overview of the thoughtful man's life, from childhood to his leaving the helm of National Review and preparing to embark upon a final sailing trip around the world with his son. I miss Mr. Buckley, having loved reading his work since I was in middle school, but this brings him back with all of the wit and liveli ...more
The American Conservative
'In short, Miles Gone By is an autobiographical aperitif when what we should have had is the whole roast. Bill Buckley insists that he will not write a real autobiography—is it out of modesty, or is it out of a post molestam senectutem fatigue? A part of the autobiography of John Dos Passos exists in the posthumous publication of his letters. But a full Dos Passos autobiography would have told us much that has not been said about the literary world of the 1920s and the Spanish Civil War. Autobio ...more
Aug 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The style here struck me as an informal conversation with a friend on the front porch rather than the formal discourse required of a book. The writing was light, if that is possible for Buckley but certainly Buckley, and yet he left the polemics for a different time and place. The chapters were all at once heartfelt, humble and enthusiastic; evident throughout too was his innate goodness, humor and basic good nature.

The book is a collection of 50 essays from early childhood, his first bestselli
Jim DeTar
Oct 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is another one where I had the privilege of reading the book and then interviewing the writer, Buckley, on the phone for a profile I was writing of him at the time. No matter what your politics, it's hard to resist enjoying the workings of a brilliant mind. And that's what you get in "Miles Gone By." Buckley is alternately very personal, brilliant, humorous and scathing in indictments of what he considers lazy thinking and outmoded ideas. I thoroughly enjoyed talking with him and reading hi ...more
Jun 05, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Mr. Buckley calls this a "literary" autobiography and I expect he is accurate in his definition. However, this is just a series of reprinted articles and in some cases, chapters of previously published works. I read it in paperback with no CD. I love his wit and his sailing writing and had hoped for something new. It is kind of a "best of" for those who don't want to read Airborne or Atlantic High or other works which may be out of print.
I loved reading this book, and of course my internal voice as I did so was WFB's! I bought this book when it first came out, I think back in 2004, and that edition came with an audio CD with the author narrating various excerpts. I used to listen to it in my car as I drove to school, and my younger brother would groan! My favorite anecdote was the first on the CD, when his sister, Patricia, didn't wave to FDR at her riding competition. "I thought you didn't like him."
Jul 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up at random because I liked the title and have vague, favorable feelings for Buckley as a person. I honestly expected it to be very boring, but I can't put it down. It is really funny and engaging and wonderfully written. My husband says it is ok that I am sort of falling for Buckley now because he is a) brilliant and b) dead.
Mark Mortensen
The essays of William F. Buckley Jr. have received much acclaim from leading journalists and conservatives. I am fond of his thoughts and views; however his very extensive flowing vocabulary and high-brow elitist writing style is a bit over the top for me.
Aug 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Miles Gone By” is a good, but somewhat disorienting, book. It’s disorienting, first, because it’s disjointed—while divided into chapters covering different topics, it’s actually composed entirely of previously published pieces, without any attempt to knit them together coherently, in time or theme, as would be usual in an autobiography. The result isn’t bad, it’s just different, and that’s disorienting.

But the book is also disorienting for another reason. It is very much a book about people, no
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book of published essays about Buckley and his friends. A little heavy on sailing articles, but if you like WFB, this book is full of treats.
Mark Taylor
Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
William F. Buckley, Jr. never wrote a conventional autobiography. The closest he came was his 2004 book Miles Gone By: A Literary Autobiography, in which he collects his favorite writings that are about him personally. Miles Gone By is a fantastic book, and it’s an essential read for anyone who is interested in learning more about Buckley’s life. Despite Buckley’s reputation as one of the main intellectuals behind the modern American conservative movement, politics do not play a large part in Mi ...more
Jan 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Miles Gone By: A Literary Autobiography is the closest that William F. Buckley, Jr., ever came to an autobiography in his lifetime. After having retired from the journal he founded, National Review, the conservative icon seemed to realize that his days on the earth were winding down, that he was in the “twilight of his life”, so to speak.

With the above thought in mind, Buckley decided to compile certain of his columns from over the years to create a narrative of some of his experiences in his li
Nov 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd really like to give this book a 3.75. It's an odd autobiography, as it focuses on the things most personal to the author (sailing, skiing, critics) and not on what the typical reader would prefer (events, NR, Firing Line) to read the most about. While he writes about growing up in his large family, there is little mention of his wife and son, and only a few about his siblings as adults.

The long section on Yale I found the most thought provoking. It's interesting that at least some critics of
Mike W
May 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
William F Buckley Jr. was a brilliant conservative polemicist. Indeed, he founded the modern conservative movement in America. And in this delightful book, he shares his reflections--mostly a collection of previously published articles--on the "Miles Gone By" in his life.

The first third of the book is a little dull, however, for anyone uninterested in sailing, one of Buckley's passions. But after that the book picks up.

It offers anecdotes and commentary on some of the most interesting and influe
Jan 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful collection of articles and remembrances published a few years before his death. Unheard of in political circles now, Buckley was an academic conservative. His strong arguments and bracing wit have few equals. Add to that a polyglot's love of language and one can only regret that he never attended their dinner party with acerbic scalpel in one hand and his working thesaurus in the other. A conservative by which a liberal can be moved, if not converted.

This book is a leisurely study of
Scott Marquis
May 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
A wonderful "literary" autobiography. Rather than pen a traditional memoir, Buckley produces existing essays about his life. In a sense he had already written an autobiography, all that was needed was to arrange these pieces into some logical order.

I especially enjoyed his description of the development of the Blackford Oaks charcter in his popular spy novel series. He was unashamedly pro-American and Oakes' Communist foes depicted correctly as evil. Most other spy novels in the Cold War era de
John  Conneely
Sep 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A compilation of Buckley's autobiographical writings that span the decades. Some are hilarious. He has a talent for self deprecation. Don't miss "Why Don't We Complain?" After a ride on a hot commuter train during which no one beseeched the conductor to turn down the thermostat, Buckley resolves to speak up the next time such a situation presents iteself. He does so while standing in line at a Vermont ski shop only to get an embarrassing comeuppance of the most dramatic sort.

There's no real nee
Tom Stamper
Jul 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was my second time through Buckey's semi-autobiography and it was every bit as good as the first. What surprised me is how much of it I forgot. This is probably due to its division into 50 or so essays about so many different subjects you could lose track. He covers politics, and music, and sailing, friends, and anything that comes into his influence. The first time around I read the physical book and this time I listened to Buckley's own narration. I think this is the only of his books whe ...more
Brian Eshleman
Has its moments. Profiles, especially of Whitaker Chambers, are memorable and provide a framework for buckley's insights. Much drift in between in this loosely connected book. The sailing section itself seems to go on forever without adding much. I wonder what would have happened had Buckley started from scratch and spent his considerable powers shaping sentences and scenes to invite us into his life. Rewarmed columns don't quite do that.
Rebecca Huston
I can honestly say that William F. Buckley was not my favourite person; I just could not cope with his conservative views. But he wrote amazing prose, and thankfully, he mellowed over time. (besides, I can't help but admire a man who can play a harpsicord very very well...) Terrific reading.

For the longer review, please go here:
James Cooper
Jan 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
I throughly enjoyed reading Mr. Buckley. The Reagan debate and the chapter on language was quite amusing. His graceful use of the English language had me going to Merriam quite often which only furthered my interest in the book. While this was a book of previous work by Buckley, sometimes it is often refreshing to "reread" past works.
Major Doug
I listened to this book: Although he comes off a bit pompous with the yachting & equestrian stories, Mr. Buckley makes up for it by cutting on the ivory tower academia. BLUF - I agree with Billy's stance that 'fireflies do have a voice'.
Oct 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hugely entertaining, but also moving. I like the travel writing best, because if someone can describe a transocean sail in such a way that I would actually like to do it, that person can write. He used words with precision, absolute clarity and emotional grace.
Dec 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
Lots of interesting personal anecdotes of this unique American family. Too many stories of his friends, most of whom I've never heard. Whether you like his politics or not, WFB's confidence and joie de vie make for an interesting life story.
M Rothenbuhler
Jan 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I adored this book. What a talent we lost when Buckley Jr. passed on.

This is a deceptively simple and captivating biography and, like all good biographies, captures not just the subject but his times. Priceless.
Jan 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography-memoir
Love his politics or hate them, Buckley's writing is always superb and captivating. The essays included in this book really tell the story of a facinating life. I especially enjoyed the pices on sailing, friends, his trip on the Orient Express, and definitive vacations.
Brian Olson
Jun 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great! Loved the stuff about sailing. And I don't know anything about sailing, but this guy can write!
Greg Streech
Mar 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An incredible biography of an an incredible man told in a series of his essays. The language WFB uses puts the reader deep in the folds of his mind. Just great.
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William Frank Buckley, Jr. was an American author and conservative commentator. He founded the political magazine National Review in 1955, hosted 1,429 episodes of the television show Firing Line from 1966 until 1999, and was a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist. His writing style was famed for its erudition, wit, and use of uncommon words.

Buckley was "arguably the most important public int
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