American Prophet

The Life and Work of Carey McWilliams
Peter Richardson
American Prophet is the long-overdue biography on the brilliant life and career of a great American thinker and writer--Carey McWilliams


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.

Peter Richardson is the editorial director at PoliPointPress in Sausalito, California. He is the author or editor of numerous works on language, literature, and California public policy. He holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of California, Berkeley.

Visit Peter Richardson's blog

Praise / Awards

  • "Peter Richardson has produced a compelling and authoritative story of Carey McWilliams, one of the great crusading authors and editors of the 20th Century. American Prophet should be required reading at journalism schools, in newsrooms and numerous college courses. It will inspire and instruct in the real mission of the press."
    —Ambassador Derek Shearer, Chevalier Professor, Occidental College
  • “For history and social commentary, Carey McWilliams is an acknowledged Master. Now the Master has a biography worthy of his achievement.”
    —Kevin Starr, University Professor and Professor of History, University of Southern California
  • "The late Carey McWilliams helped educate a generation of journalists and readers on subjects ranging from the Mexican-American border, the political culture of California, the underlying meaning and mechanisms of the so-called McCarthy era, the mass media, the small circulation magazine of opinion and much, much more. His contribution to and influence on journalism in these United States is vastly underrated and Peter Richardson's new study does much to fill in the gaps on McWilliams's remarkable life and record."
    —Victor Navasky, The Nation
  • "[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

Look Inside

Copyright © 2005, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • 358 pages.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Ebook
  • 2010
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-02613-5

  • PDF: Adobe Digital Editions e-book (DRM Protected)

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