Lecturer Peter Richardson Discusses His New Book on Carey McWilliams

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

START MAKING SENSE, THE NATION -- We take a trip back back to the darkest days in the Cold War, when muckraking journalists, independent Marxists, trade-union rebels, freedom riders, beatniks and peace protesters all found a home at America’s Oldest Weekly, The Nation magazine. That was the work of a great editor — who was also a great historian — Carey McWilliams. Peter Richardson will explain — His new book is American Prophet: The Life and Work of Carey McWilliams. Richardson teaches Humanities and American Studies at San Francisco State.

Richardson notes that McWilliams — also a lawyer who represented farm workers — hit his stride as an author in the 1940s, writing nearly one book every year of the decade.

“These were very powerful, impactful, hard-hitting books,” Richardson says. “He wrote a book on the Japanese evacuation and internment that came out in 1944 when the internment was still going on, essentially demolishing every argument for the internment. In fact, the book was so impactful that it was quoted in the dissenting Supreme Court opinion that very same year.”