National Geographic: Behind Am Lens

Howard S. Abramson, Author Random House Value Publishing $2.99 (279p) ISBN 978-0-517-56109-6
Washington financial writer Abramson calls this the first ""independent look inside'' the National Geographic Society, a dynastic magazine, map and book publishing colossus whose tax-free status and nonprofit postal rates have helped it achieve some $325 million in annual revenue. The magazine, hefty with slick paper and pleasant color pictures, is sent free every month to over 10 million dues-paying ``members.'' Founded in 1899 by Alexander Graham Bell, the Geographic has been directed successively by Bell's son-in-law, Gilbert Grosvenor, by the latter's son and (currently) by his grandson. The society funded North Pole explorations by Admirals Peary and Byrd and, more recently, the projects of Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Louis Leakey. We are also told about editorial squabbles, tax litigation and diversification woes. Despite Abramson's often supercilious viewpoint and somewhat disorganized text, this tale of an American family institution is great fun. (February 13)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1988
Release date: 04/01/1988
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 308 pages - 978-0-595-00199-6
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