Time's lost man behind magazine

by: , The Man Time Forgot, HarperCollins Publishers

In the minds of many readers the name Henry R. Luce is synonymous with that of Time magazine. He is credited with creating one of the country's most popular newsweeklies.

This is a misconception Seattle native Isaiah Wilner works hard to correct in his book, 'The Man Time Forgot: A Tale of Genius, Betrayal, and the Creation of Time Magazine.'

Wilner's subject is Luce's close friend, rival and partner, Briton Hadden.

Hadden and Luce became acquainted while boarding at the Hotchkiss School and cemented their friendship when they entered Yale University in 1916. Their relationship thrived in their passion for journalism and was tempered by an intense rivalry.

As teenagers they discussed Hadden's childhood dream of 'a 'paper' that could provide a basic world report.' Using articles from major newspapers for the publication 'they would rewrite a week's worth of events as a single story, provide context and perspective, and in the end change the newspaper content so completely as to make it their own.'

In spring 1923, the first issue of Time was printed. Within months the company was incorporated with Luce as secretary and treasurer and Hadden as president and editor.

The two men were temperamentally different. Hadden was frenetic and provocative, a hard drinker with a manic enthusiasm for work. Luce was detailed, calculating and driven by financial success.

Six years later, Time had become a hit and Hadden lay in a Long Island Hospital bed. His death of unknown causes at the age of 31 catapulted Luce into the driver's seat, and for the next four decades he did very little to dispel the notion that he, not Hadden, was the creative genius behind the magazine.

Wilner became captivated by Hadden while editing the Yale Daily News as a junior at the university. As he learned more about the man he wondered why so few people had heard of him. He was granted access to the Time Inc. archives and became obsessed with learning more about the man, the friendship and the magazine.

Readers who hope the book will be a diatribe against Luce will, for the most part, be disappointed. The story is interesting mainly because it answers two specific questions: Just who was Briton Hadden, and how did he come to be forgotten as a publishing pioneer?

The author fleshes out his subject with plenty of detailed description. This is biography at its best and most compelling.

Isaiah Wilner

When: 7:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 2

Where: Powell's City of Books, 1005 W. Burnside St., 503-228-4651

Also reading this week

If you love to hate Hollywood there's good news from author Michael Tolkin. His latest book, 'The Return of the Player,' brings back film executive and unrepentant murderer Griffin Mill. Tolkin will read at 7:30 tonight at Powell's City of Books (1005 W. Burnside St., 503-228-4651).

Why does your favorite puss act crazy one minute and disinterested the next? Find out when Terry Bain reads from his latest book, 'We Are the Cat: Life Through the Eyes of the Royal Feline,' at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Annie Bloom's Books (7834 S.W. Capitol Highway, 503-246-0053).

Nearly 100 years ago, Sigmund Freud made his only visit to the United States. Debut author Jed Rubenfeld has taken the event and runs with it. His novel, 'The Interpretation of Murder,' places Freud in early 20th-century New York City, where a killer is targeting Manhattan's wealthiest heiresses. Rubenfeld will appear 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Powell's City of Books.

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