TIME INC.: The Intimate History of a Publishing Enterprise, 1923-1941 by Robert T. Elson

TIME INC.: The Intimate History of a Publishing Enterprise, 1923-1941

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Our Time. As told, edited and researched by senior staffers (and copyrighted by Time Inc.), the history of the megafirm unrolls like a length of broadloom -- smoothly, flatly, soothingly. No aspect is entirely without interest: Luce and Hadden keeping control without investing a cent; the stylistic innovations that many parodied, more aped; Fortune as American business writ large, laid out handsomely; dramatic reportage and good publicity on the air, on the screen, via The March of Time; objectivity vs. advocacy (or bias) generally, specifically, recurrently; Luce re Life; ""the photograph can make normal, decent, useful and pleasant behavior far more interesting than word journalism usually does."" Also, the magazine as preeminently a vehicle for advertising, or how Time Inc. lost millions because Life's appeal to the public outpaced its appeal to space buyers. What the book might have been, however, comes across in a quote from former Fortun-ate Archibald MacLeish about Luce: ""Wrong and opinionated, sure -- but a memorable human being."" In avoiding most of what was wrong, the author has missed most of what was right; what's left are the ledgers (for each year), the roster (cool toward defectors), the position papers. A deposition, then, rather than a revelation, and, except for its foraging potential, rather dull. Critical attention is assured, nonetheless, from critics who are former staffers.

Pub Date: Oct. 28th, 1968
Publisher: Atheneum