Patrick Buchanan polarised American politics. His 1992 speech to the Republican National Convention set the terms of the ‘culture wars’, and his popular insurgency challenged the political establishment through the decade. Yet despite three attempts at the presidency, he never won elective office. He resembles Enoch Powell, who outraged the bien pensants and unnerved his own party’s leaders; like Powell, he has a propensity to shock deliberately and even repel an audience won over by oratorical force. The urge to provoke doomed Buchanan’s aspirations no less than Powell’s.
Timothy Stanley presents Buchanan’s life through the story of American conservatism, as the confident, prosperous world of the 1950s gave way to tensions that prompted a backlash. Stanley’s engaging biography also opens a window onto electioneering and presidential administrations. Buchanan had a unique vantage point, serving both Richard Nixon and