Bookparty for "A Bomb in Every Issue"
Wednesday, September 23, 2009, 7:00 p.m., Vesuvio Cafe, 255 Columbus @ Jack Kerouac Alley

City Lights & Vesuvio Cafe present:

Peter Richardson celebrating the release of

A Bomb in Every Issue

How the Short, Unruly Life of Ramparts Magazine Changed America

published by The New Press

He is joined by Ramparts Magazine alumni Larry Bensky and Warren Hinckle .

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, Cesar Chavez, Seymour Hersh, Angela Davis, and Susan Sontag. It was in its pages that Che Guevera's diaries and the prison diaries of Eldridge Cleaver (which  became Soul on Ice) first appeared. But by 1975, out of money and time, it had folded for good.

Ramparts was "the journalistic equivalent of a rock band," Richardson argues and, despite its early demise, it left an important journalistic legacy, influencing a generation of reporters and editors, that is still apparent today.


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