Lauren Albert's Reviews > The Publisher: Henry Luce and His American Century

The Publisher by Alan Brinkley
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Aug 02, 10

bookshelves: biography-autobiography
Read in August, 2010

Though it is very interesting, this is not a very intimate biography. With the exception of Luce's marriages and love affairs, Brinkley doesn't much discuss his private life. At the end, when Brinkley refers to one of Luce's sister as being very close to him, I blinked for a couple of minutes since she hadn't appeared at all for most of the book.

Luce's strengths were also his greatest weaknesses (who can not say that about themselves, of course?). The idealism, the imagination, the confidence that allowed him to start up Time, Life, Fortune & Sports Illustrated, also made it difficult for him to separate his own opinions and politics from those of the magazines or to open himself up to criticism.

He made mistakes but he also came out against racism and segregation and was one of the only publishers to cover lynching--Time magazine in fact kept up a running total of the number of victims which probably made the problem more vivid for many readers.

Brinkley does an especially good job in showing how blinkered Luce became about China, which he loved & where he was raised. In contradiction to his stands against racism, the magazine was caught up in the anti-Japanese hysteria during the war and promoted racist stereotypes about the Japanese. Part of it was simply the magazine being part of the culture but it was also due to his fierce hatred of the Japanese because of their acts in China.

A complex and interesting man.
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