Russell Kirk
The Essential Russell Kirk,
edited by George A. Panichas.
ISI Books, 575 pages, $20.

A few years ago, C-SPAN’s “American Writers” series featured a segment on Russell Kirk (1918–1994). The episode toured Kirk’s Italianate home in the small Michigan town of Mecosta, decorated with furniture Kirk collected from his wide travels, or saved from church sales or old hotels about to be demolished, and exhibited his library, a converted toy factory lined with heavy bookshelves. Kirk himself cast a quiet, dignified figure, almost always pictured (even as a young man) with waistcoat and watch fob, but with a twinkling eye and a taste for good Scotch and a tall tale well told. In an historical irony, Kirk was paired in the segment with William F. Buckley, Jr. In sharp contrast to the urbane Buckley, who excelled and reveled in the verbal sparring that characterized...


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