Joe Sobran, contributing editor of Chronicles magazine and former editor of National Review, departed this life on Thursday at the age of 64. The cause of death was complications resulting from diabetes.
I first met Sobran at the Ludwig von Mises Institute in 2002, and our paths crossed a couple of times over the next few years. He struck me as a very gentle, soft-spoken man who had clearly had some hard knocks. I later learned that in addition to his poor health, he had suffered at the hands of erstwhile colleagues, most prominently William F. Buckley, who had run him out on a rail at National Review because of his principled opposition to the First Gulf War. Nevertheless, he persevered for many years as a syndicated columnist and newsletter writer, advocating a Christian vision for society and restraints on political power. (I’m glad to see that National Review Online has posted a respectful notice of Sobran’s passing.)
Sobran was a consummate stylist, and his prose was always stimulating and refreshing. He did have some idiosyncratic views; for example, he was an “anti-Stratfordian,” or someone who does not believe that William Shakespeare actually wrote the plays attributed to him. However, his arguments were always well reasoned and thought provoking.
The editors at Chronicles have posted the last column Sobran was able to write for that magazine. It is not representative of his most vigorous writing, but still worthwhile. RIP.