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The Chicagoan: A Lost Magazine of the Jazz Age Hardcover – November 3, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (November 3, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226317617
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226317618
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 1.2 x 14 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #465,922 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From The New Yorker

From 1926 to 1935, a group of Midwestern writers, editors, and artists published a magazine strikingly similar to this one. The Chicagoan ran profiles, reviews, and editorials, interspersed with cartoons, and presented breezy dispatches on local events in a section that no one seemed embarrassed to call �Talk of the Town.� This volume, subtitled �A Lost Magazine of the Jazz Age,� offers a sample of the contents, including one entire issue, and has an excellent introductory essay on the magazine�s chaotic history. The publication�s art work was strong, but its writing lacked the consistency of tone that might have lent the project coherence. Many authors seem to have been beset by second-city syndrome, and the most entertaining bits today are those in which they spoof their own anxieties about Chicago�s rough-and-tumble reputation. In one cartoon, a pet-store owner tries to sell an older woman a parrot formerly owned by a local d�butante. The customer�s response? �But I already have a parrot that swears.�
Copyright ©2008 Click here to subscribe to The New Yorker

Review

“How attractive to have this lively and short-lived magazine made accessible and brilliantly contextualized by Neil Harris. Harris is the ideal scholar to explain how the Chicagoan helped to define the city during this era, setting Prohibition and gangland notoriety in counterpoint to stylish innovations in music, art, and architecture. This handsome volume is invaluable to those intrigued by the growth of urban identity and self-awareness during the second quarter of the twentieth century. Although the word ‘lifestyle’ did not appear in a dictionary until 1961, The Chicagoan: A Lost Magazine of the Jazz Age demonstrates just how curious Americans were about matters of lifestyle more than a generation earlier.”
(Michael Kammen, Cornell University 2008-04-01)

“Founded in the 1920’s, the New Yorker for almost a century has been one of the most vibrant and important magazines in America. Little did most of us know, however, that a similar periodical began at almost the same time and seemed to offer the same intellectual liveliness and cultural excitement of its East Coast counterpart. Neil Harris has recaptured the spirit and story of the Chicagoan in this fresh and colorful book.”
(Kenneth Jackson, Jacques Barzun Professor of History and the Social Sciences, Co 2008-07-07)

“Witty, artsy, and slightly snooty . . . . Despite [the editors’] frequent protests that [their] city was better than its Al Capone image, the magazine chronicled the doings of Scarface as often as it reviewed opera at Ravinia.”
(Robert Loerzel Chicago magazine 2008-11-01)

“It gleams. It glitters. It practically shouts, ‘Sophistication!’ except for the fact that the truly sophisticated never shout. A silky murmur will do. It was called The Chicagoan, and from 1926 to 1935 . . . it graced the coffee tables and guided the cultural choices of the city’s elite. It was a magazine, but it was more than that, too: It was a mindset. An attitude. A lofty perspective on the passing show. Thanks to the archival detective work of Neil Harris, emeritus professor at the University of Chicago, we can glide our way back to an era when elegance mattered—not only in dress and deportment, but also in sentence and image. In The Chicagoan: A Lost Magazine of the Jazz Age . . . a hefty, gorgeous hunk of a book that reproduces one entire issue as well as 149 covers and many articles, a vanished era returns. It comes back in all of its fussy glory, its daffy humor, its gentle insistence that even a city best known for gangsters and stockyards could yearn for beauty and glamour.—Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune

(Julia Keller Chicago Tribune 2008-10-25)

“From 1926 to 1935, a group of Midwestern writers, editors, and artists published a magazine strikingly similar to this one. The Chicagoan ran profiles, reviews, and editorials, interspersed with cartoons, and presented breezy dispatches on local events in a section that no one seemed embarrassed to call ‘Talk of the Town.’”
(The New Yorker 2008-11-10)

“Before the advent of microfiche and electronic records, many smaller-circulation periodicals were inevitably lost to trash heaps and poor preservation methods. The Chicagoan, a colorful Midwestern magazine that was published from 1926 to 1935, was luckily saved from this oblivion by the historian Neil Harris. . . . He has since compiled the periodical’s greatest hits into th[is] beautiful and vibrant book.”
(Wall Street Journal�Magazine 2008-11-09)

“A nine-year wonder. . . . As demonstrated by this elegant collection of covers, illustrations, and stories from the Chicagoan, in its heyday Chicago was the most stylish, exciting and quintessentially American of all the cities that encircle the United States. The Chicagoan lasted only nine years, but they were well chosen, from 1926 to 1935, straddling prohibition, the depression and the jazz age. Although deliberately aping the New Yorker, founded a year earlier, its cover design was entirely its own, a cocktail of art-deco design, slabby poster colours and mordant wit. The sinuous illustrations cascading across the inside pages made it visually far superior to the original . . . . Perhaps it was too beautiful to survive.”

(Andro Linklator Spectator 2008-11-12)

“Somehow this vibrant magazine was completely forgotten until a few years ago, when the distinguished cultural historian Neil Harris came upon a set of the magazine’s run in the library of the University of Chicago. It has now been brought back into print, if not to life, by the University of Chicago Press. What a marvelous job they have done! This is a book you will want to own, a coffee-table book nicer and better than most coffee tables. The University of Chicago Press has swung for the fences, producing the book to the highest standards—a nearly 400-page oversize volume, designed with care and attentiveness, to period detail and featuring loads of full-color images. It’s a pleasure to see the ball sail into the bleachers. . . .Thanks to Neil Harris’s serendipitous discovery and the University of Chicago Press’s superb effort, The Chicagoan takes its rightful place on the top shelf.”

(Matt Wieland The New York Times Book Review 2008-11-23)

“A wonderful and lavish book. . . . well-reproduced and  well-illustrated. The only thing that could top this would be a Nelson Algren renaissance. —Robert Birnbaum, themorningnews.com

(Robert Birnbaum themorningnews.com 2008-11-20)

“Reading the dusty old mag in this beautiful new book made us nostalgic for an urban culture that we never got to experience. The Chicagoan was civically engaged in a way publications nowadays rarely are. No compunction exists about taking shots at politicians, making hay about the naming of the Art Institute lions, or moaning about the difficulty of hailing a cab on Michigan Avenue. Though we hardly knew ye, Chicagoan, you’re suddenly sorely missed.”

(Jonathan Messinger Time Out Chicago 2008-11-24)

“A testament to serendipity. . . . Harris does a wonderful job of situating the magazine in the urban cacophony of 1920s Chicago, a city at the height of its power.”

(Evan R. Goldstein Chronicle Review 2008-12-10)

“The product of [Neil] Harris’ years of thorough and thoughtful research, now fashioned into a fantastically hefty volume, a treasure-trove of our city’s cultural history. . . . There were no stars at The Chicagoan. The Second City’s scrappy reputation held firm with the magazine’s hodgepodge of artists, journalists and academics who filled its pages twice a month (once a month in later years). They remain largely unknown, to this day, though Harris gives them their due, both in his eloquent historical analysis and in an appendix at the end of the book.”

(Teresa Budasi Chicago Sun-Times 2008-12-11)

“Entrepreneurs and journalists dreaming of the next great Chicago magazine will find the Chicagoan compelling, the writing interesting, the mere fact of its existence perhaps providing succor.”

(Micah Maidenberg Chicago Journal 2009-02-27)

“Social and cultural scholars will find [The Chicagoan] a joy, but this primarily pictorial book, with its witty textual nuggets and stylized Art Deco illustrations, will appeal to a nonacademic audience as well. . . . Highly recommended [for] all library collections.”

(F.J. Augustyn Jr. CHOICE 2009-07-22)

2009 Choice Outstanding Academic Title
(Choice)

"Harris's work ably reinstates the Chicagoan and joins the essential literature on the cultural history of Chicago and the graphic art of the period."
(Wendy Greenhouse CAA Review)

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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This book is a treat to read or to just leaf through.
Stevazon
I recommend it highly to anyone that loves the eras in this book.
Mar
This rediscovered magazine has Great art in the art deco style.
Roger H. Marz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Charles J. Rector on December 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The Chicagoan was a magazine that was inspired by the New Yorker and lasted 9 years 1926-1935. Its subsequent downfall from prominence to obscurity was so complete that there are only 2 known complete sets of the magazine. Additionally, all of the artists and writers who toiled for The Chicagoan wound up every bit as obscure as their magazine. Up until the publication of Neil Harris's 400 page book, the very existence of The Chicagoan was unknown even to historians of the Windy City.

Neil Harris has done a masterful job of both recounting the history of this splendid magazine as well as presenting examples of the art and writing that graced its pages. Hopefully, this will prove to be the start of a trend of exploring this magazine's history as well as the history of Jazz Age Chicago.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Marie J. Kuda on December 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Great graphics--in its day the magazine must have challenged the New Yorker neck-and-neck. Sparkles with the wit and zest of jazz age Chicago--featuring figures of the wanning Chicago Renaissance and the hectic nightlife and cultural scene of the naughty lady by the Lake in the late 1920s and early 1930s. A rescued gem that breathes life into the City's history. Marie J. Kuda
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Stevazon on January 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a treat to read or to just leaf through. The reproductions of the pages of the Chicagoan are crisp and clear. It gives insight into what it might have been like to have lived in Chicago at the time in ways that probably no other book can give. While it can be a 'coffee table book,' it can also provide hours and hours of reading pleasure.
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Candidly and honestly, I am a fan of Deco era ... anything. And this book is a spectacular catalogue of 1920's and 30's design, fashion and writing. It is fun to read and beautiful to explore.

It was also a lost book, only to be found on dusty shelves in the non circulating section of one of the best libraries in Chicago. When it was published, it was expensive ... today it is out of the question to duplicate these efforts. We have the internet and digital publishing.

This was hand pasted and designed and gorgeous to behold.

And it is my go to book when listening to early jazz and enjoying a few minutes of leisure in our hectic world.
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This was a gift for our sister-in-law and I didn't know of this book before she requested it in the family grab bag, but when it arrived. It weighed a ton and when I opened it, I understood why. It had an entire vibrant, extensive history of Jazz and the world of it. I didn't want to leave fingerprints on anything, so I left it as is and wrapped it. She absolutely loves it and I would recommend this to any jazz lover or those who could become jazz lovers easily by opening this book (bible) of jazz history!
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