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Yale Pals, Money Changed News Business with Time: Lewis Lapham

The cover jacket of "The Publisher: Henry Luce and His American Century." The book is by Alan Brinkley. Source: Random House via Bloomberg

Sept. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Meeting at Hotchkiss, Henry Luce and Briton Hadden formed an unlikely friendship. A poor scholarship boy, Luce had been raised in China by his Christian missionary parents, while Hadden grew up a rebellious son of privilege in Brooklyn Heights. Competitive and ambitious, the two stuck together and launched the magazine that would transform the news business.

Both went on to become stars at Yale, tapped for the secret society Skull and Bones. After a few dreary, post-graduation newspaper jobs, the pair of 24-year-olds moved back in with their parents in New York and started raising money within their Yale circle, with a target of $100,000.

A cocky Luce wrote: “We then spend a week or 10 days amassing the necessary capital.”

In fact, it was not so easy, he discovered, to part rich people from their cash. But the Yale connection ultimately paid off when the family of William Hale Harkness, class of 1922, pledged $35,000 to the new enterprise.

For the staff, Hadden and Luce went back to their social circle, hiring their fellow white, male, Protestant graduates of Yale, with the occasional Harvard, Princeton or Columbia man thrown in. On Feb. 27, 1923, Time Magazine was launched, though Hadden would die young at age 31.

I spoke with Alan Brinkley, author of “The Publisher: Henry Luce and His American Century,” on the following topics:

1. Inventing the Newsmagazine

2. Launching Fortune and Life

3. “The American Century”

4. Political Force

5. Luce Innovations

To listen to the podcast, click here. To buy this book in North America, click here.

(Lewis Lapham is the founder of Lapham’s Quarterly and the former editor of Harper’s magazine. He hosts “The World in Time” interview series for Bloomberg News.)

To contact the writer on the story: Lewis Lapham in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at

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