Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Smithsonian Magazine

Smithsonian Magazine is a great general interest monthly magazine. Each issue features articles about events in American history, world or environmental issues, science or nature, travel, and art and culture. The current issue, June 2008, has pieces on Great White Sharks, the almost civil war with the Mormons in Utah, the golfer John Montague, and small private museums in Europe, as well as shorter pieces about artifacts at the Smithsonian Institute, sightings of rare species, and musical and artistic culture from around the world.

One of the founders of Smithsonian Magazine, Edward K. Thompson, a former editor at Life describes his vision for the magazine this way:

The magazine I envisioned would stir curiosity in already receptive minds. It would deal with history as it is relevant to the present. It would present art, since true art is never dated, in the richest possible reproduction. It would peer into the future via coverage of social progress and of science and technology. Technical matters would be digested and made intelligible by skilled writers who would stimulate readers to reach upward while not turning them off with jargon. We would find the best writers and the best photographers.

The variety of topics means that there's always something of interest in every issue and the writers are nearly always successful in imbuing whatever they are writing about with a sense of importance. Each issue also presents a range of article length and depth so there are pieces perfect for passing time in a waiting room or on the train and pieces perfect for an afternoon of reading at the cafe. Furthermore, the magazine is a great resource for people who have a general interest in history or art or science but aren't so focused as to seek out specialty magazines.

Because of its scope and accessibility, Smithsonian is a great magazine to flip through if you have no idea what you want to read.

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