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

Product Details


$39.95 • £34.95 • €36.95

ISBN 9780674268012

Publication Date: 07/19/2022


320 pages

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

17 photos


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Richly detailed and well-argued… Fitzpatrick has mined a fresh seam in the quarry of American periodical history, and by setting it in a new, global, context, she reveals a moment in the formation of a global media culture.—Amy Aronson, American Journalism

A lively, engrossing, and often funny history of Bernarr Macfadden and the publishing empire he built. Fitzpatrick tells the story of his journey from hungry orphan weakling to famous bodybuilder, patriarch, promoter of ‘physical culture,’ and publishing magnate. Though long overlooked as a purveyor of low-class, ephemeral pulp, Macfadden achieved unsurpassed newsstand sales, connected with leaders such as FDR, Mussolini, and the Pope, and represented American culture to millions of readers around the world. Fitzpatrick’s work provides insights into strongmen—understood both literally and figuratively—and their popular appeal, and readers today will see the unmistakable legacy of his media in the Trump era and beyond.—Kristin L. Hoganson, author of The Heartland: An American History

Absolutely original. Fitzpatrick deftly travels from the Victorian world of the mid-nineteenth century to the doorstep of our time to tell Macfadden’s story. Her book brims with insights into the changing, everyday understandings of bodies, sex, material status, and the individual’s place in a social world people found too vast to perceive and difficult to comprehend. Fitzpatrick shows how Macfadden’s work, from celebrating celebrity bodies to enlisting readers to create the content to be sold back to them, laid the foundations for today’s media world.—Charles F. McGovern, author of Sold American: Consumption and Citizenship, 1890–1945

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