by John J. Miller on April 27, 2010 · 2 comments

in Explore the Vault

  • Sumo

This week’s NRO podcast is with Alan Brinkley, on his new biography of Henry Luce, the founder of Time magazine. In our conversation, Brinkley admits that Luce probably wouldn’t recognize or care for the publication that Time has evolved (or devolved) into. It brings to mind another great 20th-century magazine that has become a shadow of its former self: Reader’s Digest. Eight years ago, I wrote a long article for NR on the demise of this great American institution. It went from being the most popular magazine in the United States to just another rag on the grocery-store racks. I’m proud of this article: It’s one of my better pieces of reporting. Yet it also tells a sad story, and I wish its subject had not fallen into a terminal decline. I miss the old Reader’s Digest

  • I for one don’t miss Reader’s Digest. Growing up, my parents bought it religiously; commended its reading to me in tones that conveyed command, not suggestion. So read it I did.

    Occasionally, I was able to go to the source of the shortened articles and discovered that the tone and tenor were sometimes just a wee bit different. Sometimes quite different. It was my introduction to the powers of editing.

    My assessment was, and remains, that the Digest was reading material for people who really did not like to read.

  • BobDD

    It was my favorite growing up – the best bathroom reader of all time. I started sending in jokes to ‘Laughter Is The Best Medicine’ starting about 4th grade. The condensed books were my introduction to adult reading. What a waste that they tried to ‘fix’ something good with something so much worse.

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