Armies of the Night; Writers on the Right

The Hoover Institution at Stanford University has posted a 1968 TV interview of novelist Norman Mailer by William F Buckley, Jr. This was in Buckley’s Firing Line series which went out for many years on PBS. The subject of the interview was to be Mailer’s then recent book Armies of the Night, now considered by many to have been his best nonfiction work (if, indeed, it can properly be considered to fall into that category). The book was Mailer’s retelling of the story of his participation with other Vietnam War protestors, including Dwight MacDonald and Robert Lowell, in their attempt to occupy the Pentagon. As Buckley notes when introducing the subject: “The Pentagon won.” In the course of the interview, this exchange occurred:

WFB: “Oh, sure, I’m very anxious to discuss [Mr. Mailer’s latest book, Armies of the Night]… [which] I think everyone should read, because I think it’s an extremely interesting and enjoyable book, if that’s the right word for it.”

NM: “Well, I wish someone on the right wing would write a book that would be as good, because it would be a great help to us on the Left. I wanted to help the right wing understand-”

WFB: “You wouldn’t notice it if it were written.”

NM: “No, I would notice it. You know I’m a lover of literature.”

WFB: “Yes.”

NM: “I think Evelyn Waugh is a marvelous writer…. Unfortunately, he’s not an American.”

WFB: “Yeah. Unfortunately, he’s dead.”

NM: “That too.”

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One Response to Armies of the Night; Writers on the Right

  1. Pingback: Waugh and Norman Mailer: “The Naked and the Read” | The Evelyn Waugh Society

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