“The Stories Never Die”


Liberty’s material is so relevant today it makes me feel, at age 84, that I am at the beginning,” says Robert Whiteman, who has devoted the last several years of his life to getting people interested in the old weekly.

Liberty Magazine ran from the 1920s to the 1950s, and it featured writing by everyone from Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald to Amelia Earhart to Groucho Marx to Einstein to Mussolini to Trotsky. Whiteman, in an effort to ensure the great writing in the magazine doesn’t die, is optioning film rights and has created a web page to post some of the old articles that are relevant to current events. (Some of my favorites are below the fold).

What’s great about his project isn’t so much that he’s trying to restart a new magazine under an old name (he isn’t), but that it’s giving us constant reminders that, all claims of progress aside, the past is a helluva lot like the present. It’s why you gotta love primary sources.

For example, the web site has republished an article by Frank Lloyd Wright about building earthquake-proof buildings, a report on how Woodrow Wilson’s wife Edith Wilson actually ran the country for eight months, an op-ed by Joe Dimaggio arguing for his right to negotiate for a higher salary, a short mystery story by FDR, and Gandhi’s frank discussion of his sex life.

Also be sure to check out their art.

This might be the best thing I’ve found on the Internet yet. And I spend a lot of time on the Internet.

Seth Fischer’s writing has twice been listed as notable in The Best American Essays and has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize by several publications, including Guernica. He was the founding Sunday editor at The Rumpus and is the current nonfiction editor at The Nervous Breakdown. He is a Dornsife PhD Fellow at USC and been awarded fellowships and residencies by Ucross, Lambda Literary, Jentel, Ragdale, and elsewhere, and he teaches at the UCLA-Extension Writer’s Program and Antioch University, where he received his MFA. More from this author →