The latest issue of Book History includes an article on Duke, the short-lived men’s magazine for an African-American audience. Here is the abstract for “Race, Respectability, and the Short Life of Duke Magazine” by Kinohi Nishikawa.
Duke debuted as America’s first black pinup magazine in the summer of 1957. Through short stories, feature articles, and partially nude centerfolds, Chicago-based Duke aimed to validate African American men’s participation in consumer society and their efforts to achieve the good life. In considering why the magazine folded after only six issues, this essay documents the history behind its production as well as the reception of its content. The essay finds that decisions made by Duke’s white editor, Ben Burns, and intraracial debates over middle-class respectability combined to frame the magazine’s surprisingly conservative tone on matters of leisure, consumerism, and black male sexuality