The '60's were glory/gory years for Hinckle, a one-eyed bandit in a long tradition of West Coast high rollers, a former editor of the former Ramparts (the magazine still publishes, of course, a fact the author chooses not to acknowledge), a man who's been called a wheeler-dealer, a degenerate, a guerrilla, a pirate (he does after all wear a black patch) and more -- and is, incidentally, all of those things, this fallen Catholic who's been giving the raspberry to friend and enemy alike (sometimes it's hard to distinguish between them) ever since as an undergraduate at a San Francisco Jesuit college Hinckle first realized that Holy Mother Church was not to be trusted. It followed then that neither could the government. Soon Hinckle was working at Ramparts when its mission was still to be a radical religious journal (The Case for Contraception was an early shocker) started by a convert named Edward Keating. Before long, though, the publisher was down to his last shopping center, which went on the block, as did Keating (not for nothing those appellations flung at Hinckle), along with a continuing succession of angels, radical chic millionaires and associates as Hinckle flew around the country first class and likewise dispatched reporters hither and yon -- Hinckle a Grand Seigneur buying drinks for the house with somebody else to pick up the tab. Hinckle thought nothing of stopping the presses and remaking issues, editing the monthly as if it were a daily -- and indeed he refers to Ramparts as a paper. But what it was all about consistently made headlines: an expose of CIA funding of the National Students Association and other such covert ""liberal"" conduits; the publication of Che's diary, scooping among others both Grove Press (Hinckle's Cubans took Barney Rosset for a long drive to dissuade him from competing) as well as Rampart's own co-publisher McGraw-Hill which had independently contracted for what Hinckle claims was a CIA censored version. The magazine foolishly ventured into the murky bayous of the Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories and other stories too numerous to get into here -- not to mention capers like draft card burning, organizing a committee to stage Hochhuth's anti-Pope The Deputy (Ramparts had a hot exclusive interview with the playwright). Hinckle has an Irishman's irresistible gift of blarney, and one goes along for the ride, approving while disapproving just like all those others who got taken (the book will be a sensation on the West Coast), thinking that maybe even that last shopping center wasn't too high a price to pay for the fine madness of what was probably a once in a lifetime experience.
Pub Date: Nov. 4, 1974
Page Count: -
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1974
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