Long a hub for literary bohemians, countercultural musicians, and readers interested in a good browse, Kepler’s Books and Magazines is one of the most well-known independent bookstores in American history. When owner Roy Kepler opened the store in 1955 he changed the book industry forever as a pioneer in the “paperback revolution.” The notion of selling texts in inexpensive paperbound volumes was revolutionary in the publishing trade and Kepler’s focus on stocking these inexpensive books put him at the forefront of the movement. Paperback-selling was not the only revolution Kepler supported, however. In Radical Chapters, Doyle sheds light on Kepler’s remarkable contributions not only to the book industry but also to pacifism. Recalling the tumultuous politics of the last century, he highlights Kepler’s achievements in advocating radical pacifism during World War II, anti-nuclear activism during the Cold War era, and the anti-Vietnam War movement. During those decades, Kepler’s Books played an integral role, creating a community and space to exchange ideas for such notable figures as Jerry Garica, Joan Baez, and Stewart Brand. Doyle’s fascinating chronicle captures the man who inspired that community and offers a moving tribute to his legacy.
Michael Doyle is a reporter in the Washington, D.C. bureau of the McClatchy newspaper chain. He holds a master’s degree in government from Johns Hopkins University and a master of studies in law from Yale Law School, where he was a Knight Journalism Fellow. He is the author of Forestport Breaks: A Nineteenth-century Conspiracy along the Black River Canal.