A delightful combination of historical commentary and beautiful photos.



An illustrated history focuses on the development of American magazines.

Lomazow knows the American magazine industry from extraordinarily deep experience as a collector. Over the course of a “forty-eight-year odyssey,” he has amassed more than 80,000 magazines, dozens of whose covers are gorgeously displayed in this handsome volume. He perspicuously chronicles the historical arc of the American magazine, beginning with its genesis in the 18th century in Philadelphia, Boston, and New York City and continuing through the Civil War and the Industrial Revolution to its present iterations. The author covers a dizzying swath of territory with remarkable concision, including magazines devoted to literary pursuits, trade, social activism, business, and fashion. The rich historical account that emerges often assumes a quirkily unconventional take—for example, when covering the golden age of magazines (1890 to 1920), Lomazow concentrates on the neglected story of the great proliferation of smaller-market publications: “The era also witnessed the birth of another new magazine genre of cultural importance: the little magazine, a form associated with artistic experimentalism, avant-gardism, and social and political activism.” In fact, while the first half of the book is devoted to a synoptic history, the second half mines the cosmos of these little magazines and the impact they had despite a more limited reach than their better known, mass-market counterparts. The author’s effort doubles as an exhibition catalog—he presented his collection at the Grolier Club in New York City—and a sweeping history, both of which are executed with elegance and intelligence.

Lomazow’s expertise on the subject is inarguably magisterial—he seems equally self-assured opining on the biggest and smallest publications, the shifting sands of copyright law, and the ramifications of the birth of the internet. And since one could hardly furnish a history of the American magazine without some reflection on the circumstances—social, cultural, and political—of its evolution, the work is a wonderfully unusual account of the country’s growth as a whole. Magazines, especially the smaller ones that sometimes remained obscure, embodied the hopes of a nation of readers looking for edification, solidarity, or beauty: “While fast becoming a consumer-oriented nation embracing commercial mass market culture, America was also culturally aspirational. The little magazines serve as a demonstration of how the American entrepreneurial spirit was harnessed in the service of high culture and social progressivism.” While it’s more common to find histories that emphasize the country’s famous commercial spirit and indefatigable productivity, the author illuminates America’s cultural longings with impressive astuteness. In addition, an exhibition catalog is rightly judged by its visual splendor, and on this score, Lomazow deserves kudos—the book is adorned with dozens of stunning photographs, some immediately recognizable as iconic and others tantalizingly esoteric and rare. This is a remarkable history—thoughtful, granularly meticulous, and comprehensive—as well as a visually spectacular showpiece. One needn’t be a magazine collector to thoroughly enjoy this refreshingly original overview of American history.

A delightful combination of historical commentary and beautiful photos.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-60583-091-9

Page Count: 337

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Dec. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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