Business the Civilizer

by Earnest Elmo Calkins. Boston; Little, Brown & Co. 1928. (An Atlantic Monthly Press Publication.) 8vo. viii + 295 pp. Illus. $3.00.
SAYS Mr. Calkins: —
‘Business to-day is the profession. It offers something of the glory that in the past was given to the crusader, the soldier, the explorer — the tests of wits, of brain, of quick thinking, the spirit of adventure, and especially the glory of personal achievement. Making money is not the chief spur to such men as DuPont, Chrysler, Durant, Filene, Hoover, Heinz, Eastman, Curtis, Ford, Grace. Money to them is no more than the guerdon. They engage in business because there are no longer any long green dragons holding maidens in durance, no Holy Sepulchres to be reft from the infidel, no Pacifies to be viewed for the first time. Business is to-day the Field of the Cloth of Gold.'
We have all heard something like this before, but never from the pen of a man better qualified by his own works to write it. In his own business — advertising — Mr. Calkins is as doughty a crusader as ever crossed Jordan’s ford. All his life he has fought against the dragons who would have clawed honest advertising to death, and the infidels who regard it as bunk.
When Mr. Calkins first drew sword, advertising had no widely recognized standards; it was chiefly a brokerage business conducted by men who had no thought for the reader’s advantage, or for company morale. People who met Mr. Calkins were astonished to find him a sensitive, scholarly man, who could and did write just as good English as the contributors to the best magazines. Some people — knowing about him only as an advertising man — gasped when his essays were accepted by the Atlantic. But those papers on the Technique of Deafness were milestones in the progress of the advertising man.
Whether or not you grant his present thesis that business is the great civilizer, there is no doubt that Mr. Calkins is one of the great civili zers of advertising—a profession still raw and uncouth round the fringes, but growing more and more honest at the core. He is a living proof that an advertising man can be, and should be, a gentleman and a scholar. Had such proof been lacking, it is entirely possible that such younger leaders of advertising as Bruce Barton and Stanley Resor would now be lecturing on economics in business schools, or calling you up in dulcet tones for more collateral.
What is the result? Mr. Calkins demonstrates in his book that modern advertising is not only decent but informative, not only readable but vitally important to our modern mode of life. If it disappeared our comforts would disappear, too. The halcyon days in which we live would fade into an angry red sunset; and a rising gale of discouragement and isolation would howl around our dwellings.
Concerning advertising you may be an infidel. Here is the sharpest lance that has ever been leveled against your unbelief. After reading Mr. Calkins’s noble book you will still see, as he does, many of advertising’s flaws. But you will also recognize it as one of the great props of modern living — one of the chief reasons why you can be sitting down reading this forty-cent magazine, instead of standing in the lean-to, boiling soap.