A new book on Ramparts Magazine, “A Bomb in Every Issue,” marks the significant contribution of the alternative San Francisco-based publication that gave a viable and legitimate voice to 1960s radicalism. Check out the NYT’s review of it here. —JCL
The New York Times:
Ramparts stands with a handful of 20th-century American magazines — Playboy, the Harold Hayes-era Esquire, Rolling Stone, Spy and Wired — whose glory days continue to influence editors. Each of these magazines not only grabbed the zeitgeist but shaped it. If you’ve never heard of Ramparts or have only vague awareness of its significance, Peter Richardson’s compact history, “A Bomb in Every Issue,” will assure you of its place in the magazine pantheon.
This San Francisco Bay Area magazine didn’t live long, starting in 1962 as a quarterly and expiring in 1975. Its very best pages appeared between 1966 and 1968: in that short span, it restored the lapsed institution of muckraking, put showmanship back into journalism, exposed Central Intelligence Agency excesses, helped turn Martin Luther King Jr. against the Vietnam War, gave radicalism a commercial megaphone and boosted the careers of such notable journalists as Warren Hinckle (who gave the magazine its heart), Robert Scheer (who gave it its brain), Adam Hochschild, David Horowitz, Peter Collier and Jann Wenner.
Like those other great magazines, Ramparts influenced competitors across the media universe. Richardson, the author of “American Prophet,” a book about Carey McWilliams of The Nation, credits Ramparts with inspiring the investigative edge of “60 Minutes” and says that when The New York Times published the Pentagon Papers, “it was claiming part of Ramparts’ territory.” It was the magazine Time loved to hate, calling it “slick enough to lure the unwary and bedazzled reader into accepting flimflam as fact” in a 1967 article titled “A Bomb in Every Issue.”