If Not Us, Who? by David B. Frisk
William Rusher, National Review, and the Conservative Movement

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But anyone interested in understanding its rise should read Frisk’s highly informative study.
-NY Times


If Not Us, Who? is both the story of an architect of the modern conservative movement and a colorful journey through a half century of high-level politics.

Best known as the longtime publisher of National Review, William Rusher (1923 2011) was more than just a crucial figure in the history of the Right's leading magazine. He was a political intellectual, tactician, and strategist who helped shape the historic rise of conservatism.

To write If Not Us, Who?, David B. Frisk pored over Rusher's voluminous papers at the Library of Congress and interviewed dozens of insiders, including National Review founder William F. Buckley Jr., in addition to Rusher himself. The result is a gripping biography, authorized yet independent, that shines new light on Rusher's significance as an observer and an activist while bringing to life more than a generation's worth of political hopes, fears, and controversies.

Frisk vividly captures the joys and struggles at National Review, including Rusher's complex relationship with the legendary Buckley. Here we see the powerful blend of wit, erudition, dedication, shrewdness, and earnestness that made Rusher an influential figure at NR and an indispensable link between conservatism's leading theorists and its political practitioners.

"If not us, who? If not now, when?"—a maxim often attributed to Ronald Reagan—could have been Rusher's motto. In everything he did—publishing National Review, recruiting and advising political candidates, organizing cadres of young conservatives, taking on liberal advocates in a popular television debate program, writing a syndicated column—his objective was to build a movement. And he constantly exhorted his colleagues to step up as leaders of that movement. His tireless efforts proved essential to conservatism's ascendancy, from the pivotal Goldwater campaign through the Reagan era.

Largely unexamined until now, Rusher's career opens a new window onto the history of the conservative movement, its successes and failures. This comprehensive biography reintroduces readers to a remarkable man of thought and action.


About David B. Frisk

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David B. Frisk holds a B.A. in history from Reed College and a Ph.D. in political science from Claremont Graduate University, with specialties in American politics and political philosophy. A former newspaper reporter who received a national first-place award from the Religion Newswriters Association, he has taught American government on the college level.
Published March 11, 2014 by Intercollegiate Studies Institute. 511 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction
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NY Times

Reviewed by Jacob Heilbrunn on Jul 06 2012

But anyone interested in understanding its rise should read Frisk’s highly informative study.

Read Full Review of If Not Us, Who?: William Rush... | See more reviews from NY Times

WSJ online

Reviewed by John P Mcconnell on Sep 30 2012

...Rusher drove the conservative movement forward as a "catalyst, unifier, strategist, broker, [and] consigliere," Mr. Frisk writes in this excellent book.

Read Full Review of If Not Us, Who?: William Rush... | See more reviews from WSJ online

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