front cover

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

Title Page

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

Copyright Page

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

Table of Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. vii-viii

read more

Acknowledgments

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. ix-x

Researching and writing a book is both an intensely solitary and an intensely cooperative venture. While I am responsible in the end for any errors or missteps, I had the good fortune to work with many fantastic people whose insights, criticisms, and basic humanity dramatically improved the pages that follow. ...

read more

Introduction: "A Time Not to Rock the Boat"

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 1-14

Many Americans believed in 1929 that their country was scaling a neverending ladder of prosperity. Like many, E. Y. Harburg, who later wrote two of the Depression decade’s great anthems—“Over the Rainbow” and “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”—assumed the economy was as solid as “the Rock of Gibraltar.” ...

Part One: Newspapers

read more

1. The Press Encounters the New Deal

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 17-27

Because a newspaper represents “great investments of capital,” journalism professor O. W. Riegel argued in 1935, it instinctively promotes “political doctrines which will assure it the greatest freedom in an economic sense” and tries to “bring into existence a state of society which it believes to be most advantageous to the people it serves.” ...

read more

2. Kidnapping America's Child

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 28-44

Damon Runyon felt his stomach lurch as he joined the line outside New Jersey State Prison’s death house. William Randolph Hearst’s star reporter thought he had seen it all. He had covered Al Capone’s income-tax evasion trial, written extensively on the underworld, trekked across Mexico with Black Jack Pershing, ...

read more

3. Olympic Feats of Americanism

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 45-66

“No single classification of news” sold more papers than the sports section, the New York World’s W. P. Brazell noted in 1929. Dailies covered important horse races and prizefights as early as the 1830s, but publishers did not fully recognize the drawing potential of a sports section until the Yellow Journalism era of the 1890s. ...

read more

4. The Gumps: America's Comic-Strip Family

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 67-80

In a 1937 article, Fortune magazine warned the future “social historian of the U.S. of the 1930’s” that dismissing comic strips as “mere juvenile entertainment irrelevant to [their] serious purpose” would cause them to miss a vital clue to unlocking “the nation’s adult dream life.” ...

Part Two: Magazines

read more

5. How to Slant a Magazine

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 83-95

Magazines,” wrote two journalism professors in 1938, “are as much a commonplace in America as neckties.” Americans bought about three billion periodicals even in the worst year of the Depression, an average of two per month for every man, woman, and child. Intellectuals recognized magazines as “an educational force of the first magnitude,” ...

read more

6. Life, the War, and Everything

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 96-113

Henry Luce had built Time and Fortune into successes by the early 1930s. Now he wanted to reach an even broader audience. He wanted to create “the damnedest best non-pornographic look-through magazine in the United States.” The resulting periodical, Life, became a phenomenon within days of its release, reaching heights its publisher could not have imagined. ...

read more

7. Defining Womanhood in the Ladies' Home Journal

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 114-129

Twelve times a year, workers loaded three million copies of the Ladies' Home Journal—five million pounds of magazines—onto the 165 mail and freight cars that distributed them across the United States. Costing a mere dime, each issue contained five or six short stories; colorful advertisements; pictures of the latest fashions; ...

read more

8. Patriot Number One, the Man of Steel

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 130-146

Yes, Superman, strange visitor from another planet. Even the most refined and all but the most ignorant know who is faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive. The man born as Kal-El on the planet Krypton has achieved a level of popularity here on Earth greater than any figure in mass culture save perhaps Mickey Mouse. ...

Part Three: Books

read more

9. Mainstreaming the Book Industry

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 149-159

Newspapers conjure visions of roaring presses, cigar-chomping editors, and ink-stained writers. Magazine offices feature desks overflowing with manuscripts and the frenzy of ever-impending deadlines. But books are for the lettered, the cultured, the thinking. ...

read more

10. Finding Security in Best Sellers

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 160-176

Because the Editor’s H. M. Hamilton spent much of the 1930s complaining about the literary world, his 1935 diatribe against best sellers was hardly out of character. They must be “full of thrills,” he grumbled. “Set the story in the Kongo, or the Riviera, or on Park Avenue; people it with murderers and millionaires and debutantes ...

read more

11. Ellery Queen Restores Order

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 177-192

“Ellery Queen is the American detective story,” declared crimefiction critic Anthony Boucher. Queen was the top-selling detective writer of the 1930s, number one on “the whodunit hit parade.” Between 1929 and 1941, Queen—which was both the pseudonym of cousins Frederic Dannay and Manfred Lee and the name of their fictional detective ...

read more

12. Gone With the Wind, but Not Forgotten

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 193-214

Atlanta Constitution staff writer Yolande Gwin faced a slow news day, so she composed a brief local-interest piece to fill some space. “We take exceptional pride,” she wrote, “in announcing the name of Margaret Mitchell, whose book, ‘Gone With the Wind,’ is scheduled for spring publication. ...

read more

Conclusion: "Everything Was Better in America"

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 215-220

The cover of James Truslow Adams’s The American: The Making of a New Man (1943) depicts a Spanish Conquistador, a New England Puritan, and a middle-American businessman standing on a platform. Although their contrasting outfits make them look different, they are at ease with each other. ...

Notes

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 221-250

Index

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 251-266

bck cover

pdf iconDownload PDF