In 1936, after Time’s unexpected success—and Hadden’s early death—Luce published the first issue of Life, to which millions soon subscribed.Brinkley shows how Luce reinvented the magazine industry in just a decade. The appeal of Life seemingly cut across the lines of race, class, and gender. Luce himself wielded influence hitherto unknown among journalists. By the early 1940s, he had come to see his magazines as vehicles to advocate for America’s involvement in the escalating international crisis, in the process popularizing the phrase “World War II.” In spite of Luce’s great success, happiness eluded him. His second marriage—to the glamorous playwright, politician, and diplomat Clare Boothe—was a shambles. Luce spent his later years in isolation, consumed at times with conspiracy theories and peculiar vendettas. The Publisher tells a great American story of spectacular achievement—yet it never loses sight of the public and private costs at which that achievement came.
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Tabloid journalism refers to newspaper reporting of low quality catering to the desire of the public for sensational stories.