Weider Launches 'Armchair General' War Magazine
By Gina Keating
LOS ANGELES (*******) - The Los Angeles publisher that made its fortune on the dreams of armchair musclemen everywhere now wants to get Americans pumped up on a new avocation -- becoming armchair generals.
Eric Weider, whose family firm sold mainstream America on bodybuilding and Arnold Schwarzenegger, on Tuesday launched Armchair General, an "interactive" war magazine aimed at selling military history to the masses.
Weider, scion of the Weider family publishing empire and nephew of Schwarzenegger mentor Joe Weider, spent three years planning the magazine's debut to capitalize on the popularity of biographies and history-based programming on cable television.
On Tuesday, 90,000 copies of Armchair General hit newsstands in the United States, Canada and Europe.
It marked the first Weider foray into publishing since the family sold its 60-year-old company to National Enquirer publisher American Media, Inc. last year for $350 million.
Working from the San Fernando Valley offices where his family popularized fitness and lifestyle magazines like Shape and Muscle & Fitness, Weider said he dreamed up the magazine's concept after noticing an "amnesia of history" among Americans.
"Typically history is reduced to memorization of names, dates and places and people get turned off to history," Weider said. "I always believed history could be made more interesting if it was made about people ... what are the best selling magazines about? People."
Weider, 40, decided to try out his theory on military history buffs after market research showed a potential readership of more than 35 million lifelong devotees.
Weider hired retired U.S. Army Col. John Antal, author of six books and numerous magazine articles about military subjects, as managing editor. He brought in the designer of Shape magazine to give the magazine a broad, glossy appeal.
Weider is proudest of an interactive feature that will appear each month called "What Next, General?" in which readers fight historic battles as if they were one of the generals.
The magazine will also review war-related video games and films, preview futuristic weaponry, and include features on how history's foot soldiers were armed and equipped.
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