In the wake of the Pearl Harbor attack, there was an understandable upswell of patriotic public display. Naturally, the United States flag was a central image in many of these expressions. Hollywood's support for the war effort is well-known, but less well-known is the organized response of the periodical press. As part of The United We Stand campaign, conceived by Hearst publicist Paul MacNamara to support eh war effort (and to sell magazines), roughly 500 magazines featured the U.S. flag on their covers in July 1942.
Peter Kreitler's book, seven inches tall and five and one-half inches wide, is a small gem that features more than 100 of his collection's 200 United We Stand magazine covers. Aside from the short introduction, a few inserts and the index, the book has no other text. Each magazine cover is allowed to speak for itself, which is, after all, exactly how magazine covers are intended to work.
Certainly, this book has current interest given the renewed emphasis on the World War II generation and the patriotic displays of the flag (even the use of the slogan, United We Stand ) in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks. However, this book has qualities that go beyond these points. The contemporary reader, as if transported to a newsstand in the gold age of the magazine, becomes engrossed in an experience that has its own integrity aside form surveying the magazines many and varied interpretations of the flag.
It is fascinating to examine the 1942 covers of industry standards like Time, The New Yorker and Vogue, among others, and compare them to today s. Fantastic comic book covers, like Master Comics, Looney Toons and Captain Marvell to name a few, jump out at the reader. Perhaps most fascinating, sometimes most poignant, are the covers of long-lost magazines indicative of another era, Country Gentleman, Indian Motorcycle News, and Quiz Kid Magazine are a few of the many. No less engaging is discovering names like H.L. Mencken, T.S. Eliot and E.B. White among the contributors listed on the covers.
Appropriately enough, Kreitling's magazine collection has come to the attention of the Smithsonian Institute, which will exhibit nearly 100 of them from March 22 through October 28 in the National Museum of American History. Planned in the spring of 2001 as an exhibit to mark the 60th anniversary of the United We Stand campaign, the events of September 11 have since imbued this exhibition with a significance that transcends its original intent. Appropriately, a portion of the proceeds for this book will be donated to the American Red Cross. This book, published to accompany the exhibit, can be appreciated whether or not the reader goes to the Smithsonian. Army Magazine