The Publisher by Alan Brinkley
Henry Luce and His American Century

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Synopsis

Acclaimed historian Alan Brinkley gives us a sharply realized portrait of Henry Luce, arguably the most important publisher of the twentieth century.

As the founder of Time, Fortune, and Life magazines, Luce changed the way we consume news and the way we understand our world. Born the son of missionaries, Henry Luce spent his childhood in rural China, yet he glimpsed a milieu of power altogether different at Hotchkiss and later at Yale. While working at a Baltimore newspaper, he and Brit Hadden conceived the idea of Time: a “news-magazine” that would condense the week’s events in a format accessible to increasingly busy members of the middle class. They launched it in 1923, and young Luce quickly became a publishing titan. In 1936, after Time’s unexpected success—and Hadden’s early death—Luce published the first issue of Life, to which millions soon subscribed.

Brinkley shows how Luce reinvented the magazine industry in just a decade. The appeal of Life seemingly cut across the lines of race, class, and gender. Luce himself wielded influence hitherto unknown among journalists. By the early 1940s, he had come to see his magazines as vehicles to advocate for America’s involvement in the escalating international crisis, in the process popularizing the phrase “World War II.” In spite of Luce’s great success, happiness eluded him. His second marriage—to the glamorous playwright, politician, and diplomat Clare Boothe—was a shambles. Luce spent his later years in isolation, consumed at times with conspiracy theories and peculiar vendettas.

The Publisher tells a great American story of spectacular achievement—yet it never loses sight of the public and private costs at which that achievement came.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Alan Brinkley

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Alan Brinkley is the Allan Nevins Professor of American History at Columbia University. His previous books include Voices of Protest: Huey Long, Father Coughlin, and the Great Depression, which won the National Book Award for History, and The Unfinished Nation: A Concise History of the American People. His essays, articles, and reviews have appeared in The American Historical Review, the Journal of American History, The New York Times Book Review, The New York Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, The New Republic, and other publications. He lives in New York City.
 
Published April 8, 2010 by Vintage. 560 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Business & Economics, History, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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A stout cold warrior, Luce spent the last decades of his life constantly traveling, attempting to exert hands-on control over his vast domain and negotiating a tumultuous second marriage with the difficult and glamorous Clare Boothe Luce.

Apr 22 2010 | Read Full Review of The Publisher: Henry Luce and...

The New York Times

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Luce despised Roosevelt — in part because Roosevelt failed to flatter him, but mostly because he saw Roosevelt as too passive in world affairs — and he used Time to wage a feud with the president.

Apr 22 2010 | Read Full Review of The Publisher: Henry Luce and...

The Wall Street Journal

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Edward Kosner reviews Alan Brinkley's "The Publisher: Henry Luce and His
American Century."

| Read Full Review of The Publisher: Henry Luce and...

The Wall Street Journal

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As it must to all men—a pet Time locution—death came to Henry Robinson Luce at 67 of a massive heart attack on Feb. 27, 1967, "forty-four years almost to the day," as Mr. Brinkley writes, "since he had sat in the shabby little office he shared with [Briton Hadden] in downtown New York, holding ...

Apr 30 2010 | Read Full Review of The Publisher: Henry Luce and...

NPR

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The weirdest — and maybe even the most revealing — episode in Alan Brinkley's teeming biography of Henry Luce occurred in 1960 when Luce — a publishing potentate who reigned over an empire that included Time, Sports Illustrated, Fortune and Life magazines — experimented with LSD.

May 03 2010 | Read Full Review of The Publisher: Henry Luce and...

The Washington Times

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Luce seemed to consider himself an extra governmental force in American life, issuing periodic manifestoes on his concept of how the world should be run and proclaiming the postwar period as the start of “the American Century.” Unfortunately, his pronouncements often contained more wind than wisd...

May 28 2010 | Read Full Review of The Publisher: Henry Luce and...

Christian Science Monitor

Brinkley’s account of Henry Luce’s life before college is especially attention-getting, because biographers often locate only scant material illuminating the childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood of their subjects.

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Christian Science Monitor

So many books focused on the years 1900-2000 use the words “American Century” in the title or subtitle that I have become suspicious of them.

Apr 20 2010 | Read Full Review of The Publisher: Henry Luce and...

Oregon Live

When media mogul Henry Luce published his 1941 essay "The American Century" in Life magazine, long considered an apologia for American exceptionalism and ascendancy over other nations, he had already attained the sort of name recognition today enjoyed by the likes of Rupert Murdoch.

May 22 2010 | Read Full Review of The Publisher: Henry Luce and...

Review (Barnes & Noble)

As founder of Time, Life, and Fortune magazines, Henry Luce helped create a national mass culture, one that promoted what he saw as the unity of the American people and their shared middle-class values.

Apr 22 2010 | Read Full Review of The Publisher: Henry Luce and...

Bookmarks Magazine

Clint O'Connor New York Times 3.5 of 5 Stars " Mr. Brinkley makes a cogent case for why Luce's story and the sometimes controversial history of his frankly partisan publishing empire deserve to be seen in a new light.

Apr 18 2010 | Read Full Review of The Publisher: Henry Luce and...

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