Saturday, May 20, 2017

Leo Margulies: Giant of The Pulps

Pulp magazines written initially for boys in the first half of the Twentieth Century dominated the industry with stories about cowboys and Indians, science fiction, and adventure. They were written by such illustrious authors as Louis L’Amour, Ray Bradbury, L. Ron Hubbard, and Isaac Asimov, with a readership of tens of millions, for 10 cents a copy. The best-known editor of this era was Leo Margulies, editor-in-chief of Standard Magazines – The Thrilling Group. During one period, he bought two million words a month. He edited more than 70 magazines and was, for a time, the highest-paid pulp magazine editor in the country. Leo Margulies: Giant of the Pulps—His Thrilling, Exciting, and Popular Journey, by his nephew, Philip Sherman, includes stories by members of his family, friends, and writers, about his generosity and encouragement to so many. Dr. Sherman’s extensive research draws largely upon correspondence records from university archives, including University of Oregon, Northern Arizona University, Boston University, and Texas A&M University, and many others, and from journals such as Writers’ Digest and Author & Journalist. He talked and wrote to writers and others who knew his uncle and of course drew upon his own family’s personal experiences with this remarkable man.

Leo Margulies: Giant of The Pulps (Non-Fiction Biography)
By Philip Sherman
Altus Press
ISBN #978- 1618272980
Price $19.95
356 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

“An Editor Who Casts A Giant Shadow.”

The story of Leo Margulies cannot be told without his wife, Cylvia Kleinman Margulies, by his side. Both were true giants in the publishing and editing world. However, this book is focused, and rightly so, and the giant of the pulps, Leo Margulies. His nephew, Philip Sherman, discusses Leo’s early life and his love for books, to his rise as managing editor of the Ned Pines’ pulp house in 1932. Remaining with the Thrilling Group, under it’s many imprints he was in charge of building that empire to one of the four biggest pulp houses of its day. Dr. Sherman covers each of the magazines under Leo’s guiding hand, as well as covering aspects of his personal life. From The Phantom Detective in 1933 to The Man From U.N.C.L.E. in 1960, and until his death at age 75, in December 1975, we learn of his rise, his losses, and his achievements. He always pushed forward, and it was his work that built Ned Pine’s pulp empire, and later his own imprints in the science fiction, detective, and western fiction magazines.

This is a remarkable book, with much data covering the publishing field from early ARGOSY to Leo’s death, and the road he traveled to reach his goal. Although not a book strictly on the pulps, it’s basically a biography of the managing editor, and how he made an empire out of the Thrilling Group. I wish we had biographies on all the pulp editors, as well as the publishers. I was a huge fan of the Thrilling line of pulp magazines, and would love to learn more about Mr. Pines, the man behind the publishing house. Pulps were around for two World Wars and the Korean Conflict, along with numerous skirmishes, yet fiction for the masses survived and entertained. Readers interested in learning more about the pulps, and especially the man considered a giant among them, should pick up this well written book about a fascinating editor. Highly recommended.

Tom Johnson


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