A delightful combination of historical commentary and beautiful photos.

MAGAZINES AND THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE COLLECTION OF STEVEN LOMAZOW, M.D.

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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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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