Young America

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Wisdom isn’t much use to the old, but to be young and wise, that’s what I would call striking it rich!—Stephen Vizinczey

AS BEST we can determine, older people plank down real money for A MERICAN H ERITAGE while young people read it on the cheap)—in the homes of their parents and grandparents and in thousands of school libraries across the country. That doesn’t surprise or bother us in the least. From its beginnings this magazine was expensive compared with the mass publications. Moreover, the fact that it dealt with that dread subject “history” made it seem appropriate for a mature, sober-sided burgher—the kind of person who tells the young to do things that are good for them, like eating greens and reading serious books.

The truth of the matter—and now we’re letting you in on our quintessential secret—is that our readers have always loved this magazine because of its narrative excitement, its stories that range from the often bizarre personalities who have kicked up storms of conflict and absurdity in our past to the epic adventures of our statesmen, artists, warriors, inventors, and entrepreneurs. The dignity and strengths of our heritage are here, certainly, but who is not moved by its simple drama? We know of a middle-aged couple, for instance, whose dashing daughter snatches each issue of H ERITAGE away from her bewildered parents before they can so much as glance at the table of contents. No more for them the cozy evening at home, settling down with the magazine. Jane is in her room, door locked, stereo booming, wolfing down a story on—the Civil War? the clash of Hamilton and Jefferson? the saga of the cattlemen versus the homesteaders? What in the world is she up to? the parents wonder. Is it healthy? How did we go wrong?

Our answer to Jane’s parents is that she is simply acting like the editors of A MERICAN H ERITAGE themselves. Not a week passes in these offices when we are not swept away by a manuscript or a series of pictures that transport us to another world—a world of action or thought made vivid by understanding and artistic power, a world more satisfying and exciting than the immediate present because it can be contemplated in its totality with all its contradictions and singularities. Jane, in other words, has been captivated by the past—but no more so than the editors responsible for captivating her.

Meanwhile, what once seemed a pricey publication actually costs less per issue than any first-run movie or new cassette. Inflation has made us an everyday item.

Which brings us back to the parents. They can’t be expected to choose their children’s movies or music. But a broad hint, in the form of a subscription in Jane’s name, could hardly be taken amiss—in fact, we believe it would encourage a habit of “redeeming social value. ” Just don’t dare say that to Jane when you put A MERICAN H ERITAGE in her Christmas stocking.