From Publishers Weekly
Entering its fourth season on July 25, AMC's critically acclaimed TV series Mad Men takes place on Madison Avenue during the early 1960s in the fictional Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce ad agency. Inspired by the TV series, L.A. freelance writer Vargas-Cooper launched a nicely designed and engaging blog, the Footnotes of Mad Men, to survey not only the show but also the real-world historical and cultural artifacts of that period. Now her attractive blog has been adapted into an equally attractive book. As Vargas-Cooper sees it, the series is "about the culture clash and contradictions that occurred during the twilight of the Eisenhower era, the great societal shake-up of the 1960s" and its impact on modern America. She focuses on advertising, design, films, literature, politics, sex, style, and the workplace in order to probe "the most dramatic cultural shift in the 20th century." She begins by detailing all the series' regular characters and then moves on to profile real-life ad man Leo Burnett (Tony the Tiger, the Pillsbury Doughboy, the Marlboro Man), followed by everything from skinny ties, condoms, John Cheever and Frank O'Hara to Jackie Kennedy's White House tour on CBS and The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. All are neatly linked with specific TV episodes, making this both an entertaining read and the definitive companion book for the series.
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Well, maybe that romp in the subtitle is an exaggeration. In fact, this is a pretty quiet book, although its author is clearly an enthusiastic fan of the hit TV series Mad Men (she operates a Web site with the same name as the book), and the book is sure to appeal the show’s many devotees. Vargas-Cooper uses the show, about advertising executives in the 1960s, as sort of a portal into the decade, showing how television fiction reflects the era in which it’s set. She discusses some real-life advertising giants (Ogilvy, Burnett, Daniels), talks about social mores (particularly sex), and delves into pop culture (books, movies, etc.). The book is packed with information, and some proves quite fascinating; but readers who aren’t serious fans of the show may be put off by the bland prose and the distractingly large number of footnotes. A thoroughly enjoyable handbook, though, for anyone who wants more information about what Don Draper and his colleagues and friends smoked, drank, read, and talked about. --David Pitt