Academic journal article Journalism History

The Masses Magazine (1911-1917): Odyssey of an Era

Academic journal article Journalism History

The Masses Magazine (1911-1917): Odyssey of an Era

Article excerpt

Maik, Thomas A. The Masses Magazine (1911-1917): Odyssey of an Era. New York: Garland Publishing, 1994. 254 pp. $68.

Although there has been considerable scholarly attention paid to The Masses magazine, Thomas A. Maik's book, The Masses Magazine (1911-1917): Odyssey of an Era, still deserves to be read. The book thoroughly chronicles the short-lived socialist magazine from its inauspicious beginning in 1911 as a champion of the concept of cooperative grocery stores to its transformation in 1912 into a revolutionary journal that combined art and politics until its demise in 1917 when the United States government silenced it forever. In addition, Maik examines the era in which the magazine was published, the people who produced it, and the place where it was published (New York's Greenwich Village).

After Max Eastman took over the editorship from founder Piet Vlag in 1912, the magazine veered to the left and was transformed from what Maik refers to as an "insipid and lifeless model" that "did not involve itself with the problems of the day" into "a noisy and flamboyant voice for the oppressed and powerless." Under Eastman, reporters from The Masses went to the major strikes of the second decade of the twentieth century (for example, the 1912 textile workers strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts) and reported on them. The writers also covered subjects such as birth control, prison reform, civil rights, feminism, psychoanalysis, sexual liberation, direct action, and, of course, socialism. Maik looks at this reporting plus the poems, fiction, and illustrations that appeared in the magazine's pages.

Of special interest to journalism historians is his inclusion of scattered references to the contributors' criticism of the mainstream press as a tool of capitalism. …

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