Reviews for Publisher : Henry Luce and His American Century

Booklist Reviews 2010 March #2
Forty-three years after Henry Luce's death, historian Brinkley brings fresh perspective to Luce's life and work. Brinkley analyzes Luce's political influence while furnishing readers with fair-minded estimates of his character. Typical of media moguls, Luce sought political influence through his instruments--Time, Fortune, and Life magazines. But if Luce's frustration with the limitations of his sway over politicians flows through Brinkley's pages, so too does Luce's acumen in launching his publications, or co-acumen to speak accurately about Time, which was as much the brainchild of Luce's prep-school comrade Briton Hadden (who died in 1929). Brinkley's portrayal of Hadden's competitive, sometimes combative relationship with Luce foreshadows one of his lifelong features: his inability to establish friendships. He had business associates, not chums, and his two marriages (the second to celebrity politician Clare Boothe) and several affairs were stormy, as indicated by Brinkley's extensive quotations from the archives. Luce might not have been very happy, but he was wealthy, famous, and a redoubtable journalistic force, all of which are reasons for settling into this absorbing biography.

Kirkus Reviews 2010 January #2
A National Book Award-winning historian takes an in-depth look at the 20th-century's most innovative publishing titan.The son of a Presbyterian missionary, Henry R. Luce (1898-1967) grew up in China. Eager for distinction as a scholarship student at Hotchkiss and Yale, Luce, along with classmate Brit Hadden, founded Time in 1923. This invention of a weekly news magazine designed to inform people about an increasingly complex world started a publishing empire that eventually included the popular pioneer of photojournalism, Life, along with Fortune and Sports Illustrated. With ventures into book publishing, radio and newsreels, Luce consistently demonstrated an almost unerring instinct for connecting with the public. Amassing great wealth while notoriously imposing a distinct editorial slant on all his publications, he championed American exceptionalism, warned against the dangers of isolationism and ardently promoted the virtues of capitalism. In graceful prose, Brinkley (History/Columbia Univ.; Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 2009, etc.) tells especially interesting stories about Luce's curious relationship with Hadden, his difficult dealings with star writers Whittaker Chambers and Theodore White, his uncharacteristically high-profile involvement in the Willkie campaign and his odd attraction to the Kennedy candidacy. A stout cold warrior, Luce spent the last decades of his life constantly traveling, attempting to exert hands-on control over his vast domain and negotiating a tumultuous second marriage with the difficult and glamorous Clare Boothe Luce. Brinkley portrays Luce as ferociously ambitious, endlessly curious, fundamentally restless, virtually friendless and, by his death, deeply unhappy. Notwithstanding the publisher's heroic efforts to shape his times, Brinkley correctly identifies Luce's real achievement: the publications he created, "reflections of the middle class world" of a nation that had reached unprecedented heights of power and influence.A thoroughly researched, nuanced appreciation of a complex, talented and troubled man.First printing of 50,000. Author tour to Chicago, New York, Washington, D.C. Agent: Peter Matson/Sterling Lord Literistic Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2009 December #1

Founded by Henry R. Luce, Time Inc. not only helped create a new form of magazine journalism but also changed the way we receive our news. That is the main premise behind Brinkley's magisterial biography. The surefooted Brinkley (Voices of Protest: Huey Long, Father Coughlin and the Great Depression) details the formative events of the publisher's life and skillfully explains how Luce succeeded in launching Time in 1923, targeting middle-class readers through its novel format. Soon after, Luce created Fortune and Life magazines, which made him one of the most powerful publishers in the business. Moreover, he was not hesitant to use his power, whether to advocate the cause of Chiang Kai-shek in China or support Republican presidential candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower. Brinkley also vividly depicts Luce's tumultuous marriage to Clare Booth, but while he covers all the important events, Ralph G. Martin's Henry & Clare: An Intimate Portrait of the Luces is a more successful recounting of their marriage as well as of Clare Booth's own fascinating life. VERDICT In this era, with print media in crisis, Brinkley reminds us of its heyday. Thoroughly researched and well written, this outstanding biography is mandatory reading for all journalism students and will appeal to all readers of American history.--Richard Drezen, Brooklyn

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2010 February #3

The magazines Henry Luce and Time Inc. launched have become institutions, but as Brinkley's magisterial biography reminds us, Luce was only 24 years old when he published the first issue of Time at the tail end of a recession in 1923--not much different from today's digital media entrepreneurs. (Brinkley also details the role of Brit Hadden, Luce's friendly rival at Hotchkiss and Yale and eventual business partner, in making the magazine a success.) Those around Luce frequently described him as arrogant, and his intense sense of purpose increasingly played out in the pages of his magazines, like his insistence (despite numerous warnings from observers on the front lines) on supporting Chiang Kai-shek as a counter to the rise of communism in China. Brinkley appears to have read every issue from the early decades of Time, Fortune, and Life cover to cover, grounding his criticisms of Luce's social and political vision in rigorous detail. He's equally solid on Luce's personal life, including his early years as the son of Christian missionaries in China and his whirlwind courtship of (and rocky marriage to) Clare Boothe Luce. A top-notch biography, and a valuable addition to the history of American media. (Apr. 22)

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