A Niagara of Printnby Theodore Pappasn”It used to be one of our proudest boasts that we welcomed the downtrodden, thenoppressed, the poverty-stricken, the fit and the unHt to a land of freedom, of plenty,nof boundless opportunity. Our hindsight tells us that this boast was fatuous.”n— George Horace LorimernCreating America: George HoracenLorimer and the SaturdaynEvening Postnby Jan CohnnPittsburgh: University of PittsburghnPress; 326 pp., $24.95nBelieve it or not, Chronicles was notnthe first magazine in Americannhistory to question the virtue of unrestrictednimmigration. During thenheady days of the eady 1920’s, whilenF. Scott Fitzgerald was recording then”the greatest, gaudiest spree in history,”nthe Saturday Evening Post soughtnto concentrate serious attention on thensocial, political, and cultural consequencesnof welcoming everyone andnanyone into this country. “We’ve gotnto hammer at immigration until Washingtonnand the country at large wakenup to what’s happening,” it declared inn1920. The Post even went so far as tonencourage posterity to mark and hailnthe sailing of a little-known ship, thenBuford. “Two ships, the Mayflowernand the Buford, mark epochs in thenhistory of America,” announced thenPost. “The Mayflower brought the firstnbuilders to this country; the Bufordn[which carried America’s first lot ofndeported aliens in December 1919]nhas taken away the first destroyers.”nNo national publication foughtnmore passionately for immigration reform,nand the astonishing success ofnthe Post’s crusade is the best evidencenof the extraordinary influence that thisnmagazine exerted during its prime.nAccording to W.W. Husband, commissioner-generalnof immigration innthe 1920’s, the passage of the restrictivenImmigration Act of 1924 —nAmerica’s first permanent quota law,nwhich set the stage for the nationalnorigins plan of 1929 — was directlynTheodore Pappas is the assistantneditor of Chronicles.n36/CHRONICLESnattributable to the influence of GeorgenHorace Lorimer’s Saturday EveningnPost.nJan Cohn, dean of the faculty and anprofessor of English at Trinity College,nhas written a superb account of Lorimer’snnearly forty-year reign as editornof the Post. This book is not biography;nthe author only discusses Lorimer’snpublic life as editor and allots a scantntwo paragraphs to his parentage (hisnfather was a famous Baptist minister),nupbringing (in Chicago and Boston),nand years as an unsuccessful businessmannbefore becoming editor of thenPost at the age of 31. Nor is it corporatenor insHtutional history; the Post is analyzednonly in relation to Lorimer’sneditorship, and only tangentially doesnCohn attempt to elucidate the largernnnrole that magazines such as the Post,nMcClure’s, the Ladies’ Home Journal,nand World’s Work played in signalingnthe demise of the “gentle reader” ofnthe Victorian Age and the commencementnof the age of news and information.nThis book is, however, an intriguingnhybrid of the two forms, for duringnthe years of Lorimer’s editorship, 1899nthrough 1936, the shadow of the Postnwas exclusively that of its editor. Lorimerndominated every aspect of thenmagazine, and the magazine in turnndominated Lorimer’s life.nWhen Lorimer became editor thenPost was a small, struggling, nondescriptnpublication that had just recentlynbeen saved from bankruptcy by Ladies’nHome Journal publisher Cyrus H.K.nCurtis. Curtis is often remembered asnone of the early masters of magazinenmarketing, and his ingenious use of anhighly tenuous tie between the Postnand Benjamin Franklin’s PennsylvanianGazette — suddenly changing thenmagazine’s founding year from 1821nto 1728, making Franklin the “foundingneditor” of the Saturday EveningnPost — was indeed a coup worthy ofnBarnum. But Curtis’s true genius lay innmatching editor to format, and hisnhiring of Lorimer for the Post quicklynpaid dividends. Lorimer made two policynchanges that revolutionized thenmagazine industry and placed the Postnin the literary limelight: he promised tontake no longer than 72 hours to decidena manuscript’s fate, and to pay fornmanuscripts immediately upon acceptance.nWith policies such as these, andnwith a determined demeanor and anpower to persuade, Lorimer needed nonmore than a year to transforrri the Postnfrom a publisher of unknown authorsnand undistinguished fiction to a publicationnthat ran articles by GrovernCleveland, Albert Beveridge, and WilliamnJennings Bryan, and stories bynBret Harte, Hamlin Gadand, and JoelnChandler Harris.n