The Nation: The Digest at 50

The Reader's Digest has never actually printed an article titled "New Hope for the Dead," but probably not for want of trying. For 50 years the Digest has taught Americans how to cope with everything from brakeman's headache to athlete's foot, and this preoccupation continues today with a series of first-person articles—told by the body's organs. One of the latest: "I Am Joe's Prostate."

The Digest's concern goes far beyond medicine, but it somehow sees the world in related terms. Various cancers and infections are represented by Communism, bureaucrats, radicals and the welfare state;...

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