Wednesday, March 16, 2005


I bought my first subscription to the Reader's Digest out of my pocket-money in 1956 when I was 13 so I appreciate the truth of the comments below. The only downside is that I am still getting mail from them!

"Imagine, if you will, someone who read only Reader's Digest between 1950 and 1970, and someone in the same period who read only The Nation or The New Statesman," said the late Susan Sontag in 1982. "Which reader would have been better informed about the realities of Communism? The answer, I think, should give us pause. Can it be that our enemies were right?"

These were surprising words, spoken by a surprising source. Supposedly high-brow intellectuals such as Sontag weren't supposed to credit the supposedly low-brow Reader's Digest with anything - and especially not moral clarity. Indeed, Sontag's remarks ignited a firestorm of controversy on the Left, whose guardians of political correctness usually viewed condemnations of Soviet totalitarianism as provocative and suspicious.

Sontag's remarks were possible because her enemies were right, and Reader's Digest was a bastion of anti-Communism during the Cold War. Friedrich Hayek once credited the popular success of his book The Road to Serfdom to the fact that the Digest had published a condensed version of it.


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