Editor’s Letter

 

On my desk sits a two-inch stack of letters and emails from hundreds of subscribers who wrote us with words of encouragement after we agreed to rescue American Heritage . On behalf of my staff, thank you all very much for your support, which is critical for keeping this great American institution alive and thriving.

If the magazine seems revolutionary, it is—in the sense of turning back to an early state. While we will continue to publish cultural history and newsworthy pieces as in recent years, the magazine will focus on publishing thoughtful prose by the “best and brightest” historians and writers of the day. The founders of American Heritage said it best 54 years ago:

“We believe in good storytelling; that interesting writers can interpret history and restore it to the place it once occupied as the noblest branch of literature.”

You’ll notice this issue includes writing by some familiar friends. We first published historian John Lukacs (author of “Churchill Offers Toil and Tears to FDR” on page 30) in 1961. A search of our records produced 67 references to his essays or reviews of his books in American Heritage . Similarly, Richard Broohiser (“George Washington, Founding CEO” on page 22) has published over a dozen essays in the magazine, including a popular cover article on “What the Founding Fathers Would Do Now” in the June/July 2006 issue.

But a magazine is also about trying new things. From the beginning, American Heritage has been consciously apolitical. American history is the common heritage that all of us share, regardless of political leaning. However, we would also like to publish strongly expressed opinions about historic events from time to time, so we invited Newt Gingrich, historian as well as former Speaker of the House, to lay out in a “Viewpot” piece what we’ve learned in the 25 years since Ronald Reagan gave two of his most famous speeches (“The Evil Empire,” on page 18).

We finally completed the agreement to acquire and resurrect American Heritage on April 20, 2008. We could not publish again until the documentation was complete. That’s why this issue has the rather curious date of Spring/Summer 2008.

We will be returning to bi-monthly publication (six issues per year) as soon as possible; for this year we will be producting two more quarterly issues.

You can rest assured you will receive all of the reamining issues left when the magazine temporarily suspended publication last year. Your mailing label should now relect the correct subscription expiraton date.

Please continue to write us with your thoughts, concerns and suggestions. We cound on it.

Edwin S. Grosvenor, Editor-in-Chief Email Editor

 

The Magazine That Taught Faulkner, Fitzgerald, And Millay How To Write

When many of our greatest authors were children, they were first published in the pages of St. Nicholas

At first, it might seem F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Eudora Welty, and E. B. White have little in common besides their country of birth and their line of work. But when they were growing up, these writers all were devoted readers of the same publication: St. Nicholas, the monthly magazine for children. Founded in 1873, St. Nicholas delighted and instructed children for almost seventy years. Read more »

Edward Bok & The Simple Life

At the turn of the century, a crusading magazine editor exhorted women to seek peace of mind and body through simplicity. For a generation, they listened.

FOR THE THIRTY YEARS between 1889 and 1919, Edward Bok and the magazine he edited—Ladies’ Home Journal—exerted a profound influence over middle-class American values. His message was direct: The Simple Life was joyous and good, and too many Americans, seduced by the clutter and false values of Victorian materialism, had drifted away from it. Read more »

Mr. McClure And Willa

They could hardly have been more temperamentally incompatible, but the Midwestern writer Willa Cather and the crusading editor S. S. McClure enjoyed a splendid working relationship for six years and a lifetime of mutual respect

Willa Cather did not publish her first novel until she was almost forty. Then the cool, rich prose of such novels as My Antonia, Death Comes for the Archbishop, One of Ours (which won a Pulitzer Prize), A Lost Lady , and Lucy Gayheart established her reputation as one of America’s foremost literary figures. Read more »

Highbrow, Lowbrows, Middlebrow, Now

Our fascination with categorizing ourselves was fed in 1949 by a famous essay and chart that divided us by taste into different strata of culture. Now the man who invented these classifications brings us up to date.

RUSSELL LYNES , despite being known to his friends as the most amiable of men, is nationally famous as a witty and sometimes acerbic commentator on American society and its manners. Read more »

The Inland Printer

was the first magazine in America to change its cover for every issue. And these covers may still be the best graphic art magazine has ever produced.

 

One of the most influential magazines in America before the turn of the century was The Inland Printer , one hundred years old this year and now known as The American Printer and Lithographer . Although primarily a journal for the trade, The Inland Printer displayed a powerful artistic imagination as it reported the printing industry’s coming of age.Read more »

Celebrities

The sad story of a magazine born eighty years too soon

Some time ago a man lit on a publishing idea that seemed obvious enough but apparently had never been tried before: since people are most interested in the doings of famous people, why not devote a magazine to just that? And, for good measure, have it well illustrated? And so the new publication appeared—in 1895. Read more »

The True Story Of Bernard Macfadden

LIFE and LOVES of the FATHER of the CONFESSION MAGAZINE

In 1950 a biographer of the elderly Bernarr Macfadden—who by then was known primarily as an octogenarian health fanatic who took a parachute jump each year on his birthday—remarked that his subject’s boyhood adventures bore “a stunning resemblance to the pulp fiction of the period.” That is true but not surprising.Read more »

Working With Bruce Catton

Oliver Jensen, who was for many years the editor of this magazine and who worked with Bruce Catton from its first publication in 1954, has written this account of what it was like to have him as a colleague. We are pleased to run it here as a tribute to our late distinguished senior editor, together with some side comments from others who enjoyed the privilege of “working with Bruce Catton.”Read more »

An Artist-sportsman’s Portfolio

A. B. Frost faithfully recorded the woodland pursuits of himself and his affluent friends

Arthur Burdett Frost, who at the turn of the century was perhaps the best-known and most popular illustrator in America, sketched and painted his way from relatively humble beginnings to hobnobbing with the leisure class. A significant element in this ascension was his lifelong fascination with sports of field and stream: he often hunted and fished with gentlemen of affluence, and depicted their passionate pursuits on paper and canvas with such accuracy and verve that they came to consider him the sportsman-artist par excellence.Read more »