An ambitious, roguish young presidential candidate . . . a lifetime of inconvenient secrets . . . a decision to save a candidacy—all at a fatal cost: These are the provocative threads that master storyteller William F. Buckley Jr. weaves into this gripping yet surprisingly empathetic political novel.
The Rake brings together Buckley's keen political insight and his tale-spinning craft to tell the story of a candidate on the rise and the dark shadows cast behind him. As Reuben Castle, the prototypical child of the sixties, coasts through his early life on a cloud of easy charisma, he leaves behind more skeletons than Arlington: a highly questionable Vietnam record, an abandoned wife, and worse. Yet two decades later, just as his dreams are within reach, he learns that his personal history is about to become his political epitaph—unless he takes the direst of measures to protect himself.
With a blend of satire and suspense, Buckley offers an archly pointed portrait of a familiar icon. A novel by the defining conservative of our times, about a figure bearing an unmistakable resemblance to the defining liberal of our times, The Rake is a welcome new masterpiece, and Buckley's most winning, and provocative, novel in years.
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The legendary founder of the modern conservative movement, William F. Buckley Jr. was the author of many celebrated nonfiction books, including God and Man at Yale, as well as the bestselling Blackford Oakes spy novels and Elvis in the Morning.From Publishers Weekly:
Handsome, charismatic 1992 Democratic presidential candidate Ruben Castle is a former antiwar protester who now tacks to the center and is adept at taking both sides of an issue. He's also an inveterate womanizer with a scandal in his closet: a secret marriage to college sweetheart Henrietta, which he didn't bother terminating before wedding boozy ex-Miss America Priscilla, and which produced a son who now returns to haunt him. This story has the makings of an Arkansas trailer-trash saga, but conservative Buckley—über-pundit, Blackford Oakes yarner and social comentator (God and Man at Yale)—doesn't do tawdry. Characters are tepid rather than lurid, and the sex scenes convey the pertinent information (he didn't know then that his ejaculate had burrowed down into her ovum) without unnecessary sleaze. An inner wonk reigns, whether Buckley is describing office politics at a student newspaper, punning about the Wilmot Proviso or ruminating on whether Congress can retroactively usurp the President's authority in foreign affairs by denying him authority to conclude arrangements that he had made without any challenge to their constitutionality. Buckley's waspish wit sometimes scores—Ruben's handlers' intricate calculation of which commencement-address invitations to accept is hilarious—and like-minded readers will chortle over his satire of boomer politicians' mores. (Aug.)
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