Do the words “The Wills Watch” mean anything to you? If you’re a conservative of a certain age whose political views were shaped by reading William F. Buckley, Jr.’s National Review in the 1970s, I’m sure they will. The “Wills” in question is Garry Wills, the prolific journalist, critic, and historian who, apart from scientific matters, seems to specialize in just about everything under the sun—while devoting particular attention to American politics and history, Roman Catholicism, and Classical antiquity.

Wills began his writing career at National Review in 1957, thanks to Buckley. “But,” as Wills writes in his new memoir, Outside Looking In, “the convulsions of the 1960s and their aftermath tore many people apart, and they did that with us.”