The Reader's Dijest (Bernard Shir-Cliff) - Columbia Jester - 1949 - 72 pages

William Roy Dewitt Wallace (1889-1981) founded The Reader's Digest in 1922 to provide condensed reading material for busy people or just those with short attention spans.  The monthly magazine was designed to have 30 articles that could be read one-per-day making the publication a daily part of small-town America.  Dewitt's magazine became the monthly with largest distribution in the country until it was surpassed in 2009 by Better Homes & Gardens.  Over the years, 27 international editions have also been distributed.  The editor of the Columbia University (New York)humor publication (Jester) in 1949 was Bernard Shir-Cliff (credited with parody name, "Dewitt Shir-Cliff") who became an editor of Ballantine Books and other publications.  Mr. Shir-Cliff's other main claim to fame is his friendship with original Mad comic/magazine creator, Harvey Kurtzman.  Shir-Cliff wrote four articles for Kurtzman's Mad and provided the inspiration for the idiot kid (cover of The Mad Reader) who eventually became the Mad mascot, Alfred E. Neuman.

Reader's Dijest lists 33 articles on the cover including the "Book Section" that condenses The Encyclopaedia Britannica by Clifton Fadiman (not really) into six pages.  The condensation is mostly gibberish (see volume X - GAME to GUN).  The summarized Volume XV - MARY to MUZ is just a gossip letter from Mary to Muz.  Volumes IV, V, IX, XVI, XVII, XIX, XX, XXII and XXIII were either missing, not memorable or lost in the fire.  Volume XXIV is condensed to six maps including the Gobi Desert and The Solar System.  Articles from "Grandma is a Jet Pilot" on page 70 to "Henry Ford Looks at Birth Control" on page 120 were somehow deleted from the final edit.  Reader's Dijest drags through many of the early articles, but on the whole it is a very impressive early college parody effort.  As a joke, the quotes on the inside back cover lament the disappearance of four million copies of an international edition for "Hertzgovinia".  In 2007, the actual Reader's Digest began the publication of an international edition for Bosnia and Herzogovina.  [JAM 8/23/2015]


Front Cover - Index with photo of caveman and cavewoman
Inside Front Cover - The Group Who Make the Dijest
1  The Truth About Joseph Stalin
5  A Faith for Our Time
6  Are We Us?
9  Gotham's Growling Bus Driver
12 New Hope for Something or Other
15 Are Comics Corrupting Our Parents?
18 Poverty - Life's Cheapest Blessing
21 Victory Through Bird-Power
24 The Most Unforgettable Character I've Met
27 How to Be a Parlor Psychologist
29 Breathe 24 Hours a Day
32 Children Can Be Taught Sacrifice
35 Life in These Here States
37 The Liver - Vicious and Depraved Organ
40 Homemade Help for the Jobless
43 Uncle Oliphant - Canada's Champion Tosspot
47 It Pays to Decrease Your Word Power
49 How to Stop Living and Start Worrying
52 What We Believe
53 Animal Wisdom
55 America's Profiteer Patriot
58 The Miracle of Fear
59 The Encyclopaedia Britannica
Inside Back Cover - "Thanks for Sending Me the Reader's Dijest in My Own Language"
Back Cover - Exquisite Form Brassieres (real ad)