For many years Alexander Solzhenitsyn was a familiar presence in Hanover, New Hampshire. He had been arrested in 1945 and sentenced to eight years in prison after criticizing Stalin in a letter he wrote from the front where he was fighting in the Red Army. In 1962 he suddenly became famous in the Soviet Union with the publication of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, a scathing account of life in the Soviet prison system, its publication possible because of Khrushchev’s “thaw” and de-Stalinization, as the premier shifted to a Trotskyist global strategy of revolution in the third world. Solzhenitsyn left the Soviet Union in 1974, lived for a while in Switzerland and then moved to Cavendish, Vermont, where he had a 51 acre heavily wooded estate. This was large enough that he might, for a moment, have thought himself in Russia again. In fact he might have thought the authentic mind of Russia lived wherever he was.
William F. Buckley Jr. (1925-2008) was many things, but centrally he was one of the great American journalists, whose historic achievement was the creation of National Review. Historians will look to his magazine when they seek to explain much that has happened to the America of our time. While his liberal contemporaries, such as Walter Lippman, explained and defended something that already existed, the reformist Progressive movement and the New Deal, Buckley brought into being something new, something that had no existence before”the modern conservative movement. As Boswell said at the end of his Life of Johnson, he has left a gap which nothing can fill up.