Cover: True Story: How a Pulp Empire Remade Mass Media, from Harvard University PressCover: True Story in HARDCOVER

True Story

How a Pulp Empire Remade Mass Media

Add to Cart

Product Details

HARDCOVER

$39.95 • £31.95 • €36.00

ISBN 9780674268012

Publication Date: 07/19/2022

Text

320 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

17 photos

World

The larger-than-life story of Bernarr Macfadden, a bodybuilder who turned his obsession with muscles, celebrity, and confession into a publishing empire that transformed global media.

In True Story, Shanon Fitzpatrick tells the unlikely story of an orphan from the Ozarks who became one of history’s most powerful media moguls. Born in 1868 in Mill Spring, Missouri, Bernarr Macfadden turned to bodybuilding to transform himself from a sickly “boy” into a creature of masculine perfection. He then channeled his passion into the magazine Physical Culture, capitalizing on the wider turn-of-the-century mania for fitness. Macfadden Publications soon become a pioneer in mass media, helping to inaugurate our sensational, confessional, and body-obsessed global marketplace.

With publications like True Story, a magazine purportedly written and edited by its own readers, as well as scores of romance, crime, and fan magazines, Macfadden specialized in titles that targeted women, immigrants, and the working class. Although derided as pulp by critics of the time, Macfadden’s publications were not merely profitable. They were also influential. They championed reader engagement and interactivity long before these were buzzwords in the media industry, breaking down barriers between producers and consumers of culture. At the same time, Macfadden Publications inspired key elements of modern media strategy by privileging rapid production of new content and equally rapid disintegration and reconfiguration of properties in the face of shifting market conditions.

No less than the kings of Hollywood and Madison Avenue, Macfadden was a crucial player in shaping American consumer culture and selling it to the world at large. Though the Macfadden media empire is overlooked today, its legacies are everywhere, from true-crime journalism to celebrity gossip rags and fifteen-minute abs.

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

Jacket: A Brief History of Equality, by Thomas Piketty, from Harvard University Press

Five Reasons Why You Should Read Thomas Piketty’s A Brief History of Equality

In his surprising and powerful new work, A Brief History of Equality, Thomas Piketty reminds us that the grand sweep of history gives us reasons to be optimistic. Over the centuries, he shows, we have been moving toward greater equality. We asked him about his impassioned new book: why he wrote it, how it’s optimistic, and what we need to do to continue making progress on creating an equitable world.