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on October 15, 2008
This book is a real eye opener and helps us to understand just how we've been duped by manufacturers and big business into buying products we don't need, or buying products we already have, by planned obsolescence.

If you were angry at the constant new products that make perfectly good products obsolete, say such as VHS to DVD, or records to CD's you've got good reason. If you're angry at overpackaging this book will make you livid at it.

Though the book is a period piece(1960) it is still valid today as little has really changed...except for the worst. In light of the current economic crisis this is an insightful book indeed, and even to an extent predicts many of the current problems due to the ongoing business practices of the day.

This book might infuriate you and make you fight back by making smarter choices. In our day of trying to be conservative with resources this is an essential book to help us see clearly not only the society around us but at our own buying habits.

It reads pretty good too. Admittedly he does a bit of over kill in the research end so by the end of the book you've had enough. But this is truly an excelent study and a must read.
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on July 9, 2007
In our hectic world of the 21st Century it seems easy to "Wax Nostaglia about the 1950's. Images come to mind of Donna Reed, homemade fudge on the table, and innocent children playing in suburbia.
Thankfully, Mr. Packard had the courage to write this book (back then), and expose the truth behind the "housewife in pearls".

American society had been changing at a hyper rate since the eve of World War 2, and with the wars end, the march to suburbia started, highways started being built, and a pent up demand for consumer goods (many not available during the war years) resulted in strong years of economic growth. As our nation entered the 1950's something started to change. Returning Vets from the Korean War were barely noticed, the youth of the time were branded soft and weak, and our President, Dwight Eisenhower, was a decorated war hero, but seemed ineffective in confronting domestic issues. As an exmaple when Mr. President was asked to comment on what American's could do to end the economic slump in 1958, he responded, "Buy, Buy ANYTHING".

It was clear that as the decade wore on American Industry had a hard time keeping the economic engine humming, and they seemed to resort to shoddy workmanship, and over the top designs to ensure that durable goods would be replaced very couple of years, either out of desire, or need.

This book foreshadowed many changes in our society that had yet to come, but have. It also mentions some
ideas that thankfully never occured, such as the idea of creating a national Holiday, known as Friendship Day, on August 1 of every year, as a way to keep retailers busy during the summer doldrums.

Read this very real take on a very misunderstood time in American History.

Ken
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on April 1, 2005
It has been years since I read this book, but its message is very timely. It deals with the strategy of companies to manufacture goods that wear out or break down so they need to be replaced. As I recall it deals heavily with the automobile industry. But in truth, the US auto industry could not hold a candle to the computer and software industry of today. This is also true of many other consumer goods. GDP is literally a measure of our garbage! Waste Makers is worth a read.
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on July 9, 2007
In our hectic world of the 21st Century it seems easy to "Wax Nostaglia about the 1950's. Images come to mind of Donna Reed, homemade fudge on the table, and innocent children playing in suburbia.
Thankfully, Mr. Packard had the courage to write this book (back then), and expose the truth behind the "housewife in pearls".

American society had been changing at a hyper rate since the eve of World War 2, and with the wars end, the march to suburbia started, highways started being built, and a pent up demand for consumer goods (many not available during the war years) resulted in strong years of economic growth. As our nation entered the 1950's something started to change. Returning Vets from the Korean War were barely noticed, the youth of the time were branded soft and weak, and our President, Dwight Eisenhower, was a decorated war hero, but seemed ineffective in confronting domestic issues. As an exmaple when Mr. President was asked to comment on what American's could do to end the economic slump in 1958, he responded, "Buy, Buy ANYTHING".

It was clear that as the decade wore on American Industry had a hard time keeping the economic engine humming, and they seemed to resort to shoddy workmanship, and over the top designs to ensure that durable goods would be replaced very couple of years, either out of desire, or need.

This book foreshadowed many changes in our society that had yet to come, but have. It also mentions some
ideas that thankfully never occured, such as the idea of creating a national Holiday, known as Friendship Day, on August 1 of every year, as a way to keep retailers busy during the summer doldrums.

Read this very real take on a very misunderstood time in American History.

Ken
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on April 18, 2011
A companion volume to Packard's "Hidden Persuaders" The Hidden Persuaders
and "The Status Seekers" Status Seekers, "The Waste Makers" documents our descent from a waste not want not society into the depths of a throwaway culture. The fact that he did this long before anyone else even noticed the change is just another mark of Vance Packard's keen insight and observation.

The thing you need to remember in reading these books is that at the time these were written advertising was in its infancy; branding and logos were not ends in themselves. This was groundbreaking work then, and still gives you invaluable insight into how the machine works to drive consumer demand and planned obsolescence.
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on August 31, 2013
As in all of Packard's books, he foresaw problems in a time of great prosperity, a time when it appeared that nothing could go wrong with the American Way of Life. Now his books seem like a warning few people listened to. A few sample quotes:

"New pressures are causing ever more people to find their main satisfaction in their consumptive role rather than in their productive role. And these pressures are bringing forward such traits as pleasure-mindedness, self-indulgence, materialism, and passivity as conspicuous elements of the American character."

"Our enormously productive economy...demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption...We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced, and discarded at an ever increasing rate." -Victor Lebow, retailing analyst

"As businessmen caught a glimpse of the potentialities inherent in endlessly expanding the wants of people under consumerism, forced draft or otherwise, many began to see blue skies... What was needed was strategies that would make Americans in large numbers into voracious, wasteful, compulsive consumers--and strategies that would provide products assuring such wastefulness. Even where wastefulness was not involved, additional strategies were needed that would induce the public to consume at ever-higher levels."
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on May 12, 2013
i only wish I'd reat it earlier, Packard referred to Huxley's Brave New World (I read that in 1965) where Huxley could not have forseen the waste and resource depletion as Packard forsaw. Packard in his turn could not have envisaged the extent of the atmosphere's sensitivity and the carbon dioxide problems we now face (and still see strident denials emanating from the politically opportunistic) which were not appearing in scientific literature until some ten years or so after publication. Still, as Bill McKibben's introduction stated, shows remarkable prescience. It you have not read it, do so, then go on to the post carbon reader.. Above all Read ,Read, Read and THINK!
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on July 14, 2016
OH WOW.
A friend recommended Bill McKibben's works to me. As I was purchasing a few of his books, this one popped up in my search.
Thought I'd take a chance...and glad I did.
Learning SO MUCH about our wasteful society. And consider that this book was written in the '60's...and how many of his theories CAME TRUE!
Enjoying this read, especially as an individual who has an engineering degree (read: used to work manufacturing) and is trying to become more of a minimalist.
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on August 14, 2015
Written by the man who coined the term "status seekers", in the book The Waste Makers he coins the term "planned obsolescence". Here Vance Packard describes how industry uses fashion, shoddiness, and plain old frustration to get the consumer to throw the old product away and buy another one. The strategies go as far as designing containers where the consumer finds it almost impossible to get the last little bit of product. So he throws it away and goes out and buys a new bottle.
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on April 20, 2010
What foresight this author had! This is one of the earliest, serious books about us humans trashing the planet for everyone. A must read for anyone interested in the history of the "green movement".
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