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Liberty Magazine

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But I was doing my homework, you see. So I went to a man named Victor Weybright, who was then chairman of the board of New American Library. And he said, ‘You mean you own all the rights to these stories?’”

Suffice it to say, a substantial chunk of money changed hands, and Liberty was born again in book form. New American Library did eight books: collections like Murders That Baffled the Experts and Famous Short-Short Stories; more were published later by Bantam, Prentice Hall, and Hallmark, among others. In 1971, the year Whiteman and three Wall Street investors purchased the archives, Liberty was launched again as magazine, featuring newly compiled reprints of the original material. “We even gave our advertisers two pages for the price of one,” says Whiteman, “with their vintage ad on one page and their current one on the other.”

Even though the past wasn’t the foremost thing on America’s mind in the midst of Vietnam, the magazine continued for seven years as a quarterly.
There’s no mystery as to why Liberty continued to make money after its demise: It was a good read when it was new, and it’s a good read now. Founded by Captain Joseph Medill Patterson, who had also founded the New York Daily News, and his cousin, Colonel Robert Rutherford McCormick, publisher of the
Chicago Tribune, Liberty combined the sensational with the substantial.

However sober the subject, Liberty’s editors believed in good, lurid titles that couldn’t be ignored: a piece by Mahatma Gandhi, for instance, written to refute rumors that he’d forsaken his vow of celibacy, ran under the less-than-dignified tide of “My Sex Life.” There was a piece by Benito Musolini called “Sex, Church, and State.” For political pieces, titles took the form of weighty or apocalyptic questions such as “Can Our Government Survive?” and “Will the Dark Races Destroy the Whites?”—which, as it turns out, is a mild and rather farsighted article about the importance of political self-determination among the peoples of India, Africa, and China.


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