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A Bomb in Every Issue: How the Short, Unruly Life of Ramparts Magazine Changed America
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—New York Times Book Review
Short, explosive, unforgotten: the story of Ramparts magazine and its lingering influence long after it was gone.”
Peter Richardson . . . charts the publications’ high points with a gleam in his eye.”
—New York Times
From the Publisher
"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
Top Customer Reviews
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.
The main complaints I have of this book is the fact that we're given few photos regarding the art in the magazine. Apparently, the artistic layout of the magazine was so stunning other magazines were envious (Esquire was envious enough to try to hire the art director). I would have liked to see a lot of this artwork but the book features too little. Another complaint: there aren't any quotes from the magazine. From what I have read about Ramparts, the writing style was something people truly liked about the magazine. In that case, why aren't there any excerpts of the writing style? That would have truly helped this book.
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.Read more ›
"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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
In 1968, "Ramparts" magazine seemed like just about the coolest thing ever to hit the newstands. It was unapologetically slick, left-wing, anti-liberal, and irreverent... Read morePublished on December 19, 2011 by Peter Baklava
Not as entertaining as I expected. it's a history of a short-term rock maqgazine and the management differences behind the scenes.Published on October 22, 2010 by Ronald Giranio
I subscribed to Ramparts for several years, and considered it then, and now, to be the best magazine, of any kind, that I have ever read. Read morePublished on March 8, 2010 by Richard Gearon
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?!?! Read morePublished on February 10, 2010 by N. W. Gehron