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A Bomb in Every Issue: How the Short, Unruly Life of Ramparts Magazine Changed America [Bargain Price] [Hardcover]

by Peter Richardson
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 8, 2009 1595584390
What an incredible story Peter Richardson has told! Ramparts magazine turned the Sixties on its head with a high-octane combination of avant-garde satire and gumshoe investigative reporting. A Bomb in Every Issue is an excellent history that shouldn't be ignored. I can't recommend it enough.

A Bomb in Every Issue tells the largely untold story of the wild ride of this hugely influential magazine that achieved countless firsts: it published the first conspiracy theory about JFK's assassination, it was the first to reveal that the CIA had backed the National Student Association during the Cold War, and its article about the use of napalm on Vietnamese children (another first) caused Martin Luther King Jr. to speak out against the war for the first time.

Launched in 1962 as an intellectual Catholic quarterly, within five years Ramparts had become a secular magazine and won a George Polk Award for "its explosive revival of the great muckraking tradition." Deeply committed to the civil rights and antiwar movements, its contributors included Noam Chomsky, César Chávez, Seymour Hersh, Angela Davis, and Susan Sontag. It was in its pages that Che Guevara's diaries and the prison diaries of Eldridge Cleaver (which became Soul on Ice) first appeared. Although by 1975, out of money and time, it had folded for good, Ramparts left an important journalistic legacy, influencing a generation of reporters and editors that is still apparent today.

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Editorial Reviews


“This book satisfies on every level . . .”
New York Times Book Review

“Short, explosive, unforgotten: the story of Ramparts magazine and its lingering influence long after it was gone.”
L.A. Times

“Peter Richardson . . . charts the publications’ high points with a gleam in his eye.”
New York Times

From the Publisher

The rollicking story of Ramparts--the magazine that captured the zeitgeist of the '60s, repeatedly scooped the New York Times, brought the new left into American living rooms, and made an indelible imprint on American journalism

Advance Praise:
"Peter Richardson has done a brilliant job bringing to life the incredible story of Ramparts, a publication that changed journalism and the world it reported on. This book will become required reading for all those concerned about the current crisis in the world of news. A Bomb in Every Issue makes clear that Ramparts in its prime was a vortex of flamboyance and critical intelligence. Out of that maelstrom came reporting that truly changed America. What makes this book even better is that it has not ignored or downplayed the foibles of Ramparts' founders and chief architects. It is a cautionary tale told with economy that will be a touchstone for the new journalism, the new Ramparts of the twenty-first century."
--Lowell Bergman, professor of journalism, University of California, Berkeley, and a correspondent for PBS's Frontline

"It's a great delight to see this key chapter in the history of American journalism at last get the readable, judicious history it deserves. Ramparts touched the lives of far more people than its readers by paving the way for the rich universe of alternative media now open to us. Peter Richardson has told an important story, and told it well."
--Adam Hochschild, author of Half the Way Home and Bury the Chains

America's muckraking tradition stretches back to the 1690s--but no publication better represented it than Ramparts. In the 1960s, it helped set a generation on fire, tore away a veil of hypocrisy in public life, and set new standards in editorial and design quality. Richardson's tale brings the dead to life, and gives us a new understanding of how journalism changes the way we are and will be."
--Richard Parker, senior fellow, Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy, Harvard University

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: New Press, The (September 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595584390
  • ASIN: B00740IILW
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,403,465 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Peter Richardson is the author of American Prophet: The Life and Work of Carey McWilliams. He is the editorial director at PoliPoint Press and the interim chair of the California Studies Association, and teaches courses on California culture at San Francisco State University. He lives in Marin County, California.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An explosive story of Ramparts magazine September 17, 2009
Peter Richardson has crafted a work of thorough research and a compelling story in "A Bomb in Every Issue," the saga of Ramparts magazine. Ramparts was the quintessential leftist publication of the 1960s that changed traditional journalism and inspired a generation of investigative reporters before Watergate.

Anyone who lived or is interested in the Sixties and the emergence of the counter-culture will find this to be a fascinating backstory to the era. Richardson draws upon interviews with more than fifty writers, experts and observers of the tumultuous events that shaped much of the political and socioeconomic framework in Northern California, including Jann Wenner, Warren Hinckle, Lowell Bergman, Tom Hayden, Paul Krassner, Adam Hochschild, Robert Scheer and many more.

As a San Francisco Bay Area writer and former newspaper journalist during the late Sixties and Seventies, I thought I had a fair knowledge of the media scene at the time, but I was captivated by details here that I had never read or known of before. I heartily recommend the book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Key for any library strong in journalism or social issues February 20, 2010
A Bomb in Every Issue: How the Short, Unruly Life of Ramparts Magazine Changed America is the first book to tell of the short life of Ramparts, originally founded as a Catholic literary quarterly that evolved to become the leftist publication of its times committed to civil rights and antiwar movements. This magazine made a strong impact on its readers and this history is key for any library strong in journalism or social issues.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Trip down a wild and wooly memory lane February 10, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This fabulous book kept me completely hooked. While some of the information and networks and stories were totally new to me (who knew all that about the Black Panthers?!?!) the more familiar stories helped me to piece together parts of the sixties that I had never thoroughly processed. Pick it up and enjoy!
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vivid history, steady eye November 13, 2009
Peter Richardson's excellent first book, "American Prophet: The Life and Work of Carey McWilliams," told the story of the most important political writer to come out of 1930s and '40s California into post-war national prominence. Writing that book prepared Richardson well for "A Bomb in Every Issue," his outstanding second effort.

"A Bomb in Every Issue" traces the vivid history of Ramparts magazine, the Bay Area experiment that in little more than a decade (the early '60s through the mid-'70s) evolved from a sober-minded liberal Catholic journal of ideas into one of the most radical, irreverent and influential magazines of its time.

From Thomas Merton to Eldridge Cleaver and the Symbionese Liberation Army, from Vatican II to Vietnam and People's Park, Richardson presents a dazzling cast of characters and a heady range of issues and events. While training his focus on the ground-level California activists who made the Ramparts bomb tick--vanguard journalists, visionary publishers, and at-times downright gonzo promoters--Richardson keeps a steady eye on the larger world of American politics and culture that Ramparts illuminated and affected.

I recommend this book with enthusiasm.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Mine of Ramparts History January 26, 2010
The magazines we get today like Time or Newsweek although have a history they are largely mainstream. They give us the usual lo-down on what is going on in the world but not much more. Peter Richardson sheds some light on how it used be done with his book about Ramparts magazine A Bomb in Every Issue: How the Short, Unruly Life of Ramparts Magazine Changed America.

Ramparts was founded by Edward M. Keating in 1962 with a focus on catholic matters. I use the phrase "catholic matters" but maybe a description from books introduction might give you a better idea of what Ramparts was about. It described itself as a "forum for the mature American Catholic" focusing on "those positive principles of Hellenic-Christian tradition which have shaped and sustained our civilization for the past two thousand years" It Sounds pretty staunch doesn't it? But it wasn't long before the magazine took a sharp turn to the left; it became a radical muckraker that by all accounts turned the art of journalism on its head and gave it a good shake.

I first heard of Ramparts through Scanlans magazine and their common denominator Warren Hinckle; and because of my huge interest in Scanlans I was delighted to get a peek at A Bomb in Every Issue so soon.

So what about it? Well after reading the book I've realized that magazines like Ramparts and Scanlans for that matter deserve some consideration for their contribution to a new, no nonsense style of journalism and gutsy political reporting. Publications with guile are thin on the ground these days.

Richardson gives a detailed account of the 13 year life of Ramparts and its most contentious stories.
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