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An Economy of Abundant Beauty: Fortune Magazine and Depression America

By: Michael Augspurger;

2004 / Cornell University Press / 9780801442049


Michael Augspurger's book examines the surprising role that Fortune Magazine played 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.


  • Frontmatter
  • Introduction
  • Ch 1: The Business Gentleman
  • Ch 2: The Contest Over Professional Identity
  • Ch 3: Corporate Liberalism In Crisis
  • Ch 4: Consensus Pluralism and National Culture
  • Ch 5: Affirmative Visions and Adversary Doubts
  • Ch 6: Professional Leadership and Democratic Participation
  • Ch 7: Professionalizing Pluralism
  • Notes
  • Index