Image - speaker plus public domain photos of Patty Hearst
Image - speaker plus public domain photos of Patty Hearst

Roger Rapoport: Searching for Patty Hearst

Fifty years ago, on February 4, 1974, Patty Hearst was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army, and that story, covered thoroughly by a young journalist named Roger Rapoport, quickly became one of the most bizarre and polarizing crimes of an already unsettled time. Now Rapoport has written a novel to explore alternative theories of the crime and to delve into the complex psychology of many of the key actors in the drama. Using the techniques of fiction, Rapoport gives voice to much of the story that fell outside of the bounds of journalistic coverage.

With a wry sensibility and insider knowledge, gained through access to the elite and secretive world of the Hearst family and many other behind-the-scenes players, Rapoport goes beyond the tabloid headlines to attempt to answer such questions as: Why did Patty participate in the kidnapping of a high school student just hours before six of the SLA kidnappers were killed in a firefight with the LAPD? Did celebrity coroner Thomas Noguchi mishandle the autopsies of six SLA victims? Why did Patty’s lawyers dump her fiancé Steve Weed as a key witness at her trial at the last minute?

Join us to test the theory that fiction can offer insights into the truth that reporting can’t, and refresh your recollection of the story of Patty Hearst’s kidnapping and the totally unexpected twists and turns that story took which carved it into the American psyche.

MLF ORGANIZER: George Hammond

A Humanities Member-led Forum program. Forums at the Club are organized and run by volunteer programmers who are members of The Commonwealth Club, and they cover a diverse range of topics. Learn more about our Forums.

This program is part of our Good Lit series, underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation.

Image - Roger Rapoport

Roger Rapoport

Filmmaker; Playwright; Former Publisher, RDR Books; Former Journalist; Author, Searching for Patty Hearst: A Novel

Image - George Hammond

In Conversation with George Hammond

Author, Conversations With Socrates