seem to serve Buckley best, and henshould stay closer to his own semiologynof that particular participle, or noun.nIt’s easy to see that Buckley has followednin the footsteps of Ian Fleming,nboth in his clear-cut ideological positionnand in his creation of an irresistiblynattractive hero. Blackford Oakes is thenobvious antithesis of le Carre’s grubbynlittle bureaucrats or Greene’s venal gunsnfor hire. James Bond became a folk hero;nalthough his adversaries are alwaysnsharply delineated as communist agents,nthey inhabit the realm of comic booksnand pop art. Buckley’s alter ego, BlackfordnOakes, Yale man and knight innmodern garb, belongs to a more sophisticatednworld which is molded by bothnactors and cerebration.nThe ideal of Yale as a templar ordernwhich prepares a young man to serve hisncommunity as well as himself runsnthroughout this trilogy. In the past therenwas some basis for this sentiment, althoughntoday such feelings seem overwhelminglynnostalgic and sentimental.nThe Yale I know has changed since JohnnO’Hara yearned to adopt the Yale identitynwhich, for him, symbolized thenAmerican gentleman. And Buckleynknows that in our time ideal and realityndiverge and has thus set his novels innthe Eisenhower 50’s, which was the lastnmoment when this idealistic portrait ofnschool and country had any basis. Certainlynin the late 60’s – early 70’s whennI was at Yale things were drasticallynchanged: women were on the campus innforce. President Brewster marched withnthe Black Panthers, Nobel scientistnShockley was denied permission to lecture,nGeorge Lukacs, a Marxist literaryncritic, and Kate MiUett were requirednreading for graduate courses innliterature.nBlackford Oakes, Yale man turnednintelligence operative, is an engagingnprotagonist: he thinks, he doubts, henhas moral qualms, he is a patriot althoughnnot uncritical. Despite being anloner and a wanderer, he is a fraternitynman. ELI, CIA, WASP-all his lettersn10 inChronicles of Cttlturenare the best. He is at his most attractivenin Saving the Queen, by far the best ofnBuckley’s trilogy. I read the novel whennit was first published, and the recentnsecond reading only enhanced my pleasurenand approval. It is delightfully written,nstylish and ironic. It has a pronouncednmusicality of literary manner,nwhere words and phrases occur and thennreoccur like Wagnerian leitmotifs. Thenlove/hate relationship between thenAmericans and the English who share anlanguage and thus erroneously assumenthat they are culturally alike is provocativenand convincing. The book is alsonstartling in its accurate foreshadowingnof Vaffaire Blunt, in which the highestnBritish aristocracy, albeit a communistntraitor, was protected by position andnclass allegiance. One of the scenes withnthe greatest verisimilitude is a meetingnbetween Bolgin, the Soviet operativenand Oakes’s Moriarity, who fears andnloathes the communist regime and hasnmade a great career of avoiding deathnin the Gulag (in the surrealistic system,nBuckley implies, each option is equallynplausible), and the traitorous Englishnaristocrat, overcome with idealistic zealnfor the fruits of Marx. Reality vs. fantasynare gracefully counterpointed in theirnrelationship.nWhat makes Saving the Queen, Buckley’snfirst novel, far superior to thenFleming et alia formula is that itnuses sexual tones as something morenthan just routine seasoning of the conventionalnspy prose that has been ragingnfor two decades on the best-seller scene.nIn fact, the novel can be read as perhapsnthe most trenchant statement sincenHenry James of differences betweennthe American and English cultures. Itnbuilds itself up into a crafty persiflagenand an amusing metaphor, a parable asnwhimsical and bittersweet as it is inventive.nIt finally amounts to a movingnfugue, in which the contrapuntal (Bachnwas always more of a teacher than entertainer)nsignals mark the ideological perversitiesnbetween the forces of good andnevil (the great Bolgin-Peregrine Kirkncontredanse of commitments). Thennnseemingly trivial, but actually quitensubtle, tensions between the Americannand the English ethos, the American andnEnglish sense of importance, as registerednby Buckley, could even fascinatenJames, who had some difficulty acknowledgingnthe weightiness of thenpedestrian.nIhe other two novels become SeriousnStuff and the charming ironic distancenwhich characterizes the first bookndiminishes. The latter two present situationsnwhere history stood still for anmoment and might have gone in anotherndirection, taken another road. The second,nStained Glass, is a totally fictionalnrendering of a charismatic young Germannleader who is managing to inflamenhis country’s patriotism to unite the twonGermanys and defeat the communists.nThe third. Who’s on First, deals withnthe Soviet Sputnik launch, and hypothesizesna situation where we might havenbeen there before the Russians. However,nin both novels the CIA is no longernidealistic but pragmatic, and Blackfordntoo, after much agonizing introspection,nmakes decisions which compromise hisnmoral innocence. The parallel withnAmerica’s loss of innocence when forcednto confront the new realpolitik is aptnand biting. Buckley suggests that Americanis no longer motivated by righteousnidealism but by grubby compromise, andnthat we are the ones ultimately compromisednby this accommodation withna reality antithetical to our most fundamentalnprinciples and thus, forsakingnprinciple, we are doomed to lose. It maynbe an emotional message, but the dailynnews validates it at each step. It’s anweighty, complex and very unwieldynidea to promote in our days of transvaluatednsophistication, when decencynequals demagoguery, saviors are villains,nsocial exemplars are endowed with peasizednbrains, and rock-music drivelncounts as poetry. To package such annidea as entertainment and score successesnwith it may prove the first stopnon our journey to almost unobtainablensalvation. Dn