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Life (magazine)

In 1936 publisher Henry Luce paid $92,000 to the owners of ''Life'' magazine because he sought the name for his company, Time Inc. Time Inc. sold ''Life'' subscription list, features, and goodwill to ''Judge''. Convinced that pictures could tell a story instead of just illustrating text, Luce launched ''Life'' on November 23, 1936. The third magazine published by Luce, after ''Time'' in 1923 and ''Fortune'' in 1930, ''Life'' developed as the photo magazine in the U.S., giving as much space and importance to images as to words. The first issue of ''Life'', which sold for ten cents (worth $}} today), featured five pages of Alfred Eisenstaedt's photographs.

In planning the weekly news magazine, Luce circulated a [http://life.tumblr.com/post/17551327132/to-see-life-to-see-the-world-to-eyewitness confidential prospectus], within Time Inc. in 1936, which described his vision for the new ''Life'' magazine, and what he viewed as its unique purpose. ''Life'' magazine was to be the first publication, with a focus on photographs, that enabled the American public,

To see life; to see the world; to eyewitness great events; to watch the faces of the poor and the gestures of the proud; to see strange things — machines, armies, multitudes, shadows in the jungle and on the moon; to see man’s work — his paintings, towers and discoveries; to see things thousands of miles away, things hidden behind walls and within rooms, things dangerous to come to; the women that men love and many children; to see and take pleasure in seeing; to see and be amazed; to see and be instructed...


When the first issue of ''Life'' magazine appeared on the news-stands, the U.S. was in the midst of the Great Depression and the world was headed toward war in Europe. Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party had taken power in Germany. In Spain, General Francisco Franco's rebel army was at the gates of Madrid ready to destroy the last vestiges of the Spanish Republic; German Luftwaffe pilots and bomber crews, calling themselves the Condor Legion, were honing their skills as Franco's air arm. Italy under Fascist leader Benito Mussolini annexed Ethiopia.

Luce ignored these tense world affairs when he unveiled the new ''Life'': the first issue cover depicted the Fort Peck Dam in Montana, a Works Progress Administration project, photographed by Margaret Bourke-White.

The format of ''Life'' in 1936 was an instant classic: the text was condensed into captions for 50 pages of photographs. The magazine was printed on heavily coated paper and cost readers only a dime. The magazine's circulation skyrocketed beyond the company's predictions, going from 380,000 copies of the firs...
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