The Rake is William F. Buckley’s last novel, and the tale of a charming rogue who goes from calculating undergraduate to all-but-announced candidate for President of the United States. Set from the 1960s through 1991, the story of the charismatic but unscrupulous Ruben Castle is a political cautionary tale of what happens when driving ambition collides with a reality that includes an abandoned wife and unacknowledged child. The book can be read as a well-veiled roman a clef about a prominent political figure still very much in the public eye. Buckley’s amusing insights into academic life as well as political maneuvering, and his sympathetic portrayals of the characters and their moral compromises make this an entertaining book, as does his stylish and witty writing. One could say that this book proves the theory that reformed rakes make the best husbands, since the unreformed Reuben Castle makes a very bad husband, but a repulsively fascinating principal character.
– M. Spore-Alhadef