195: Ramparts Press – Josh MacPhee


“I’m going to try to be a little less complete-ist than I’ve been in the past, hopefully making these posts a bit easier to compile. To that end, this is hardly the complete output of Ramparts Press, but a dozen covers I’ve found over the years. They published at least double this amount, likely even more. While a fair amount of information about the Ramparts magazine is available (see here), I’ve found very little about the book publishing wing, and I have little knowledge about who the editors were, who decided on design, etc, etc. Before I was noticing publishers much, I stumbled upon a copy of Majorie Heins’ Strictly Ghetto Property, which is a great, and possibly the only, history of Los Siete de la Raza. Los Siete were a group of seven Chicano youth, mostly activist college students, framed for the shooting of a police officer in San Francisco. As far as I can tell, the book has long been out of print, and although you can find copies online, the only one I’ve ever seen in a used bookstore is the one I bought a decade ago in SF (at Dog Eared I believe, back when they were cheap!). … Certainly the most popular and enduring of Ramparts Press output is Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver. Originally written in Folsom Prison and published in parts in Ramparts Magazine, on his release in 1968 Cleaver got a job writing for Ramparts and Soul on Ice was quickly published in book form. It also appears to be one of the first books Ramparts published (a couple edited collections by the editors of the mag seem to have appeared a bit earlier). A year later, in 1969, Cleaver’s Post-Prison Writings were also published. While the cover for Soul on Ice is much more well-known, I definitely prefer Post-Prison‘s design. The titling is bolder, and Cleaver’s face set in the background is more direct and confrontational. It feels more honest, more polarizing like Cleaver was as an actual figure. The portrait is frontal, but his eyes are a bit shifty, and there are none of the flowers and city-scape that litter the cover to Soul on Ice. …”
Just Seeds

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
This entry was posted in Black Power, Books, Chicano, Eldridge Cleaver, Newspaper, SDS, Vietnam War, Weather Underground and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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