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Peter Collier. (C-SPAN)
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California Author Peter Collier Passes Away at 80

Former New Leftist and Ramparts editor became prolific conservative author

By Lloyd Billingsley, November 4, 2019 12:08 pm

California author Peter Collier, the former New Left radical who became one of the premier biographers of the Kennedys, Rockefellers and other prominent families, has passed away at the age of 80. Even those familiar with Collier’s best-selling works may not be aware of the writer’s background.

Born in Los Angeles on June 2, 1939, “Collier began his intellectual life as a New Left radical,” Mark Tapson noted at Frontpage Magazine. In 1966, Collier became editor of Ramparts magazine, where “red diaper baby” David Horowitz joined him two years later. The pair went on to author The Kennedys: An American Drama (1984), a New York Times bestseller, and biographies on the Rockefellers, Fords, and Roosevelts.

Destructive Generation, by Peter Collier and David Horowitz

The New Left stalwarts became disillusioned with the left and in 1987 staged the “Second Thoughts Conference,” shown on C-SPAN and attended by others of similar mind. Two years later, they authored Destructive Generation: Second Thoughts About the Sixties, which as Tapson notes, “made them enemies of their former comrades.” For Peter Collier, that was no problem, and the left offered a target-rich environment.

Caller launched Heterodoxy magazine, “the cultural equivalent of a drive-by shooting,” targeting the sacred cows of the left and their politically correct surge across the nation. Heterodoxy became the online Frontpage Magazine, and continues the same campaign to this day.

Peter Collier went on to write, The Fondas: A Hollywood Dynasty, and books honoring military heroes such as Medal of Honor: Profiles of Valor Beyond the Call of DutyWings of Valor: Honoring America’s Fighter Aces, and Choosing Courage: Inspiring True Stories of What It Means to Be a Hero.

In 2012, the longtime Nevada City resident authored Political Woman: The Big Little Life of Jeane Kirkpatrick, the first and only biography of America’s first female ambassador to the United Nations. As Kirkpatrick noted back in the 1980s, “the San Francisco Democrats always blame America first.” Herself a target of the left – Gloria Steinem called her a “female impersonator” – it was fitting that Jeane Kirkpatrick got the best biographer. He never wrote a dull page, as this writer can attest.

I met Peter Collier at the Second Thoughts Conference and wrote features for Heterodoxy magazine and its online successor Frontpage. Many of those pieces may be found in Bill of Writes: Dispatches from the Political Correctness Battlefield, with a foreword by Peter Collier his own self.

As Peter wrote, I too “had once been seduced by the left and had a change of heart in the decades since, as he watched the chickens of the 60s revolution come home to roost in the epidemics of drug abuse, criminality and dependence, as well as defeatism in the face of Soviet advances around the world. Being in the company of other Second Thoughters shows him that he was not alone in his revelations and that there would be like-minded others in the trenches beside him as he got locked and loaded for the culture wars to come.”

Rest in peace, my friend, and thank you for your service.

Lloyd Billingsley

Lloyd Billingsley is the author of Sexual Terrorist, about the Golden State Killer, and A Shut and Open Case, about a California murder trial prolonged by Proposition 57 and recent legislation. Lloyd is a fellow with the Independent Institute and his work has appeared in the Daily Caller, City Journal, Orange County Register, Wall Street Journal and many other publications. Bill of Writes: Dispatches from the Political Correctness Battlefield is a collection of his journalism.

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