Synopses & Reviews
How did the New Left uprising of the 1960s happen? What caused millions of young people-many of them affluent and college educated-to suddenly decide that American society needed to be completely overhauled?
In Smoking Typewriters, historian John McMillian shows that one answer to these questions can be found in the emergence of a dynamic underground press in the 1960s. Following the lead of papers like the Los Angeles Free Press, the East Village Other, and the Berkeley Barb, young people across the country launched hundreds of mimeographed pamphlets and flyers, small press magazines, and underground newspapers. New, cheaper printing technologies democratized the publishing process and by the decade's end the combined circulation of underground papers stretched into the millions. Though not technically illegal, these papers were often genuinely subversive, and many of those who produced and sold them-on street-corners, at poetry readings, gallery openings, and coffeehouses-became targets of harassment from local and federal authorities. With writers who actively participated in the events they described, underground newspapers captured the zeitgeist of the '60s, speaking directly to their readers, and reflecting and magnifying the spirit of cultural and political protest. McMillian pays special attention to the ways underground newspapers fostered a sense of community and played a vital role in shaping the New Left's highly democratic "movement culture."
Deeply researched and eloquently written, Smoking Typewriters captures all the youthful idealism and vibrant tumult of the 1960s as it delivers a brilliant reappraisal of the origins and development of the New Left rebellion.
"Historian McMillian (The New Left Revisited) turns the clock back to the college radicals who shaped the influential underground press to give voice to the disfranchised, in his highly detailed book. These newspapers, reflecting the soul of the counterculture, kept readers informed during the late 1960s through the early 1970s on campuses and in cities, protesting the Vietnam War, racism, sexism, gay and women's rights. McMillian is at his critical best when he examines the history of the papers that led the youthful resistance, including the Los Angeles Free Press, the East Village Other, the Berkeley Barb, and The Rag. Not only does he show the rich yet erratic contribution of the publications and their founders, but he reveals FBI Director Hoover's plots against them, employing infiltrators, wiretaps, forged documents, and smear campaigns. Using prime examples of the radical press services attacked by the feds, McMillian has contributed a solid and informed commentary on the New Left's independent press. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
About the Author
is Assistant Professor of History at Georgia State University. He is the author of Beatles vs. Stones
and the co-editor of The Radical Reader: A Documentary History of an American Radical Tradition
, The New Left Revisited
, Protest Nation: The Radical Roots of Modern America
, and The Sixties: A Journal of History, Politics and Culture
. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
Table of Contents
1. "Our Founder, the Mimeograph Machine": Print Culture in Students for a Democratic Society
2. "A Hundred Blooming Papers": Culture and Community in the 1960s Underground Press
3. "Electrical Bananas": The Underground Press and the Great Banana Hoax
4. "All the Protest Fit to Print": The Rise of Liberation News Service
5. "Either We Have Freedom of the Press or We Don't Have Freedom of the Press": The War against Underground Newspapers
6. "Questioning Who Decides": Participatory Democracy in the Underground Press
7. "From Underground to Everywhere": Alternative Media Trends Since the Sixties