Mad Men Unbuttoned by Natasha Vargas-Cooper

A quick rundown…An exploration of the 1960s using the TV series Mad Men as an example.

Strengths: Background to events, fashions, advertising campaigns used in the series.

Weaknesses: No pictures of the series, more about the time period than information about the show.

Why I read it: $5 sale at the ABC Shop

Pages: 231

Published: 2010

Publisher: Faber and Faber

Rating: 7.5 out of 10

If you liked this, try: The Ultimate Guide to Mad Men by Will Dean (more about the TV series)

I like sales. I probably wouldn’t have been as happy with this book had I picked it up at full price. But for $5, it was an interesting insight into the life and times of the 1960s, when one of my favourite television shows, Mad Men, was set. I need to warn you though before you click the ‘Buy Now’ button, that this book does not contain any photos of Don Draper. Yes, that’s right. A book about a television programme minus gratuitous pictures of the rather lovely looking male main character, nor pictures of any other character for that matter. Why?

I suspect the answer to the above question is because this is more a ‘fan’ book than a licenced Mad Men book. In fact, the author makes reference to how much she enjoys the show in the acknowledgements and thanks the series creator. But be wary, this book is a collection of short essays about fashions, manners, pop culture and advertising of the 1960s. It links in written format to events and characters in Mad Men, but there are no pictures of the show. Pictures of 1960s advertising campaigns, yes, but none of Joan’s fashions or Betty’s hairstyles.

Is that such a bad thing? It might be for some fans, but once I realised this was an in-depth look at the life and times of the characters – what they read and what influenced them, I enjoyed it. It would also work for a non-Mad Men fan too who simply wanted to know what life was like for the average American during the early 1960s. Each essay is fairly short and can be read as a standalone piece, or as part of the major chapters, or from cover to cover.

The writing style is easy-going and references pertinent points in case you’d like to delve further. The pictures included give the reader more insight into the real world of the 1960s (e.g. book covers, movie posters). It’s not Don Draper Illustrated, but it’s interesting for those of us who analyse every movement of the series.

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4 responses to “Mad Men Unbuttoned by Natasha Vargas-Cooper

  1. This sounds interesting, but WHY would they not include photos? Who doesn’t need photos of Don and Joan in exchange for reading this book?! I would probably buy it in a sale too, but maybe not for any other reason having read this.

  2. I love all things Mad Men. It’s one of the few shows I drop everything to watch live. I don’t think I’ve had to record it once this season. I just finished reading The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook. It was more than recipes… each dish had an explanation of when it was used on the show, which I enjoyed reading more than the recipes themselves. (No photos of Don Draper in this book either.)

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