An Economy of Abundant Beauty: Fortune Magazine and Depression America
"We have made a breakthrough from an economy of scarcity to an economy of abundance," Henry Luce noted more than twenty years after founding Fortune magazine. "Can we make the breakthrough from an economy of abundance to an economy of abundant beauty?" Michael Augspurger's attractively illustrated book examines Fortune's surprising role in American struggles over artistic and cultural authority during the Depression and the Second World War.
The elegantly designed magazine, launched in the first months of the Depression, was not narrowly concerned with moneymaking and finance. Indeed the magazine displayed a remarkable interest in art, national culture, and the "literature of business." Fortune's investment in art was not simply an attempt to increase the social status of business. It was, Augspurger argues, an expression of the editors' sincere desire to develop a moral capitalism. Optimistically believing that the United States had entered a new economic era, the liberal business minds behind Fortune demanded that material progress be translated into widespread leisure and artistic growth.
A thriving national culture, the magazine believed, was as crucial a sign of economic success as material abundance and technological progress. But even as the "enlightened" business ideology of Fortune grew into the economic common sense of the 1950s, the author maintains, the magazine's cultural ideals struggled with and eventually succumbed to the professional criticism of the postwar era.
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