- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: ForeEdge (October 4, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1611687357
- ISBN-13: 978-1611687354
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.2 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,342,403 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: An American Hero Paperback – October 4, 2016
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About the Author
RONALD D. LANKFORD JR. is an author and independent scholar who lives in Appomattox, Virginia. He is the author of Women Singer-Songwriters in Rock: A Populist Rebellion in the 1990s, Folk Music USA: The Changing Voice of Protest, and Sleigh Rides, Jingle Bells, and Silent Nights: A Cultural History of American Christmas Songs.
Top customer reviews
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A copy editor for Montgomery Wards Department Store, Robert May, made Rudolph up as a promotional event at Christmas back in 1939. The book written in the same type prose as The Night Before Christmas was given out at the store to promote buying--what better way to get people into the store than to give something free to their kids. This happened a couple of times.
Most of us know that Gene Autrey was the first person to sing the song after it was turned down by Bing Crosby and others. Crosby went on later and did his own version. Most people today know the Rankin Bass version of Rudolph on TV (which isn't really from the book).
So if you want to read about Rudolph, this is the book for you. I found it interesting.
Ronald D. Lankford has written an excellent history of how the story of Rudolph came about. He sorts through the various stories (myths, perhaps?) that have been told over the years to tell about Robert May, a staff copywriter at Montgomery Ward, who wrote a simple poem for a giveaway promotion in 1939. World War II put things on hold, but Ward again brought out Rudolph in 1946, and eventually signed over the copyright to May. But for most of us, Rudolph is the reindeer from Gene Autry's hit song (written by Johnny Marks, brother-in-law to May) and the stop-motion television special by Rankin/Bass in 1964. Lankford examines the spin-offs and product tie-ins that were sold, but also the themes that made Rudolph so popular, such as being an underdog or 'misfit,' and why that resonated with Americans. It's a thoroughly researched history that I found very fascinating. It's not an overly lengthy book and includes lots of photos, although it might be more information than most people are looking for - but it's still a great read at the holidays.
This is an academic treatment of Rudolph and his various origins in different forms over the years. It's well-cited and sourced, and the author has obviously gone to a lot of effort to reconcile conflicting stories given over the years by everyone involved in any aspect of any version of Rudolph! A lot of work (and corporate backing) went into creating this new legend, which seems to have been perfectly timed to catch the baby boom and all the child-centric marketing that came with it.
As this is an academic work, the text has a slight tendency to repeat points between chapters, and the numbering for the citations can get a little distracting. I did appreciate the included photos of ephemera, like ad flyers, records, and comic books; they engage the eye and keep the book interesting.