I’m about 60 percent of the way through Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains, a book that many critics have commented on.

On p. 32, Professor MacLean writes:

His bearing was “austere,” a later colleague explained; while he was “a good person”–a man of integrity–he was also “one of the coldest people I have ever met.”

Her footnote references this article in the New York Times.

My mileage varied a good bit. I’ve been cleaning my campus office at the Naval Postgraduate School in preparation for my retirement next Friday. I came across a James Buchanan file that I thought I had had in my downtown office that burned down in February 2007.

In it was a letter from Jim, which I received at age 20 in response to one I had written him. By the way, I had written him only about a week or so earlier.

Here’s the letter:

Sept 1971 letter to DRH.pdf

And here’s a highlight from the letter, some advice he gave a 20-year-old stranger that went well beyond what I asked for:

Incidentally, in a discussion last month, several of us agreed that now would be an excellent time for some student to take the procedure used in that appendix and apply it to the US national debt and see how the situation has changed since, say, 1960. This could be done easily, and it might well snake a publishable note for, say, the National Tax Journal.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take it, which is true of lots of advice I was given at that age.