McWilliams's engrossing life story reveals a figure thoroughly engaged with the issues of his time. Author Peter Richardson deftly interweaves correspondence, diary notes, published writings, and McWilliams's own and others' observations on a colorful and influential cast of characters from Hollywood, New York, Washington, D.C., and the American West. Among those making an appearance are Louis Adamic, John Fante, J. Edgar Hoover, Joseph McCarthy, H. L. Mencken (McWilliams's mentor and role model), Richard Nixon, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Studs Terkel, Hunter S. Thompson, Robert Towne, and more.
American Prophet illustrates the arc of McWilliams's life from his early literary journalism through his legal and political activism, his stint in state government, and his two decades as editor of the Nation. Not only will this book introduce McWilliams to a new generation of readers it will also assure his place as one of our most influential and prescient progressive political writers.
"[A] superb new biography. . . . Richardson's book, with its balanced perspective on his early, middle and late years, comes at a critical juncture when even hard-core McWilliams fans are in danger of losing sight of the whole man. . . . [A] fascinating portrait of activism deepened and sustained by Herculean labors of research and investigation. . . ."
—Mike Davis, Nation
". . . a comprehensive, highly readable profile of literary skill and political courage. . . . Peter Richardson's work will prompt readers to reflect not just on the life of McWilliams but on their own. One can hardly ask for more."
—Volker Janssen, Southern California Quarterly
". . . a compelling biography of Carey McWilliams introducing, or for some readers re-introducing, a man who deserves to be remembered and lauded."
—New York Law Journal
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