Getting It Right has all the Buckley trademarks—wit, passion, and a heady view of political life. It is a riveting story and an original contribution to the history of the postwar America.
Buckley was influenced by Rand and this book details the struggle in the early 1960s between the Randian, Goldwater and Rockefeller wings of the pre-Vietnam Republican party.
My suggestion is to read this book, then watch Rand's "The Fountainhead" on video, then read Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" (all 1168 pages). Then you should get the overall context.
AUTHOR OF "BARRY BONDS: BASEBALL'S SUPERMAN"
As a younger conservative, I wasn't all that familiar with the John Birch crowd. Older teachers in the faculty room often accused me of being a "Bircher" because I was a conservative. This book introduced me to the more hysterical elements of anti-communism.
So where does modern conservatism come from? It seems to me that this book is an allegory, not a history. It is no mistake that the former Objectivist and the former Bircher get married in the end, and he goes off to fight in Vietnam. In a way, this is exactly what happened to the conservative movement. Philosophically speaking, the modern conservative coalition is made up of social conservatives and libertarians, among others. This book is effective as an allegory showing this philosophical development. Artfully done!
Anyway, one of the best insights here was when Goldwater's aides were explaining to him the philosophy of Ayn Rand. The 'street' politics, as Buckley refers to them here, are nudged both directly and indirectly by these intellectual and fringe movements. Think Ayn Rand's high-brow philosophy had no effect on modern Republican thought? Guess again (also, see Greenspan). For me, it underscored how any standing "President" is truly just a figurehead for a broader movement when so many seem to overlook this and assume that he is where it all starts and ends......or "voting for the man", as I've heard it put. In other words, George Bush doesn't have to know the intricacies of everything that happens in relation to foreign policy because he's not basing decisions merely on his personal ideas anyway. That wasn't the point of the book, but an interesting aspect of it, I thought.
If you are far too into politics, as I am, you'll definitely enjoy this insight into the forces that determined the direction of the conservative movement in the last century.