Friday, November 19, 2010

Book Review: Mad Men Unbuttoned; A Romp Through 1960s America By Natasha Vargas-Cooper

Formats: Trade PB
ISBN: 9780061991004;
ISBN10: 0061991007
Imprint: Collins Design ;
Trimsize: 6 x 9;
Pages: 256;
RRP: $27.99;

Mad Men Unbuttoned is a visually arresting celebration of the cultural and artistic ephemera of the 1960s advertising age, the Mad Men era. Based on the popular blog, Mad Men Unbuttoned “nails the 1960s and the ad industry during this fascinating era,” and is “a good, fast, joyful read.” (Nina DiSesa, Chairman, McCann New York).

Book Description

Mad Men Unbuttoned, footnotes to the show and the era, including these fascinating tidbits:

• Don Draper's character is based on the real-life Draper Daniels, protégé of Leo Burnett who started off as a copywriter and rose to creative director, eventually heading the team that launched the Marlboro Man.

• The iconic "Think Small" Volkswagen ad positioned the Beetle as an ugly but well-made car—a revolt against excess. Not only did unit sales top 500,000 cars a year, but the campaign succeeded in junking all the rules of car advertising.

• When barred from visiting Disneyland on a trip to the United States, Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev threw a tantrum and left Los Angeles in a huff the very next day.

• The Group by Mary McCarthy, the novel Betty Draper is seen reading in the bathtub, transformed the way women viewed love, sex, and marriage.

• In 1947 Christian Dior showcased its revolutionary New Look line. Betty, Peggy, and the rest of the steno pool at Sterling-Cooper can be seen sporting the sloping shoulders, hourglass silhouettes, and billowing skirts of the New Look style.


If you are a die hard Mad Men fan then this book gives so much insight into the 1960s as well as the details about aspects of the show that you always wondered about (the ad campaigns, decor, fashion, sex, etc.). It casts intriguing light on the behind the scenes story of many aspects of the show, from flight attendants to the lives of housewives and models to literature. I'd recommend it for those who are interested in 1960s history, and who've been driven to Google by the references made by the characters.

There's about 80 or so of these photos that refer to moments in the show, and then a great essay written by Vargas-Cooper to go along with each one. There is also a stack of 1-2 page selections on Mad Men's influences, very interesting for the fans of the show.

Overall, an entertaining and insightful book into the setting behind the popular television program and the 60’s in general.

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