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Mad Men Unbuttoned: A Romp Through 1960s America
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Mad Men Unbuttoned: A Romp Through 1960s America

3.37  ·  Rating Details ·  359 Ratings  ·  68 Reviews
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 popularblog, 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). ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published July 20th 2010 by Harper Design (first published 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Evanston Public  Library
Ok, I admit it--I'm hooked on the TV series Mad Men. The Emmy-winning show offers a look back to what my life was like. Well, only in my imagination. Actually, I was just a pre-teenager, had never even been near New York city, was never, ever going to be able to fill out a dress like Joanie, and nobody I knew drank martinis. Let's just say I wished my life was that glamorous having not yet had my consciousness raised as far as attitudes towards women were concerned. In her sharply written, savvy ...more
Jan 16, 2011 Shelley rated it liked it
Shelves: history, media
This included essays and pictures tying Mad Men to its real life counterparts in advertising, style, etc, which is such a fun idea. But the end result was uneven - many of the essays were a single page long, which is fine, except they felt like the editor just chopped off whatever didn't fit instead of actually concluding them. Also, this is great because it gives even more context to the show and characters, but I disagreed with pretty much all of the author's views on the characters. Many time ...more
This book is designed to be a fun and rather brief romp through the historical tidbits that form the backdrop to the popular TV series Madmen. However, I found myself wanting just a bit more. Some of the articles end far too abruptly and seem hurried and unfinished, while a few pieces written by the author (who is a freelance magazine writer) contain details that are of dubious historical accuracy. The better-written pieces are by the various guest authors. All in all, its a book filled with eye ...more
Dec 11, 2010 Sjcapanna rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010
I saw this at the library and thought it might be fun to read during the long, long break between Mad Men seasons. The book presented itself as an in-depth look at trends in fashion, literature, advertising, the workforce, film, and decorating of the 1960s.

Well, about half of the book was that. I enjoyed that part a lot, and there were some interesting pictures. (This book was essentially half pictures, and I'm almost embarrassed to count is an actual book on my Goodreads.)

The part of the book
Steven Pattison
Aug 25, 2010 Steven Pattison rated it liked it
A nice companion book to the show all about the real style,
culture, design, business and counter-culture era behind Mad Men.

This is a slick book with aterrific layout that features some great circa 60's photos and illustrations(including a few from memorable past ad campaigns) But as a read it's brief and possibly not as thorough as it could be, not sure what it's missing but seemed to be lite on the specifics on what really makes the show so unusual and original.

The the first chapter about t
Oct 13, 2010 Carrie rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, z-2010
Features 1960s history/culture as it specifically relates to Mad Men -- so fashion in the 1950s and '60s and why Joan's dresses are different from Betty's, for example. Or some history about the real-life versions of Don Draper. Or why Pete Campbell dresses like such a preppy little jerk.

The problem is this book only spends two pages at the most on each of those topics, so what you end up with is a really brief introduction to something that sounds like it might be interesting, and then it ends
John Barclay
Oct 10, 2016 John Barclay rated it liked it
A fun bathroom read. Lots of little pieces, interesting and well written, but so short that you never really get very much info. The kind of thing to read, enjoy and yet you would never spend more than a few minutes on at a time.
Sam Still Reading
Jun 15, 2012 Sam Still Reading rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: serious Mad Men fans
Recommended to Sam Still Reading by: I am a Mad Men fan
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 ...more
Apr 06, 2014 Allison rated it liked it
I picked this up because I am currently in the middle of my all too familiar Mad Men fever in the weeks leading up to a new season. I actually didn't know this book existed at all until very recently, despite the fact that it came out in 2010. It is a collection of essays, ostensibly using the show as a jumping off point, about culture, art, society in general during the 1960s. I think I was expecting it to be a lot more about the actual show than it was but that was probably my fault.

Jory (The Year of Stine)
Jul 24, 2015 Jory (The Year of Stine) rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I'm not a history buff whatsoever, but when a book is tied into something that I actually interested in, I'll give it a shot. Mad Men Unbuttoned is just that. Mad Men is one of my favorite television shows, so when I saw this at the library I knew I had to give it a try.

Natasha Vargas-Cooper basically explains things that are mentioned from the television series, ie: books that characters have read, what the fashions were like, and of course a look at the events that shaped the time. She doesn'
Jan 01, 2011 Rachel rated it really liked it
Shelves: television
Mad Men Unbuttoned is a fun and thoughtful book. It provides arguably enough analysis, research, or argument behind an aspect of the show while also keeping that section concise and approachable. I also enjoyed the book's organization and its vast array of discussion topics (ad men, style, women's employment, sex, "smoking, drinking, drugging," decor, film, and literature.)

Although the book reiterated points I was familiar with--such as the popular literature and film that the Mad Men draws fro
Jul 03, 2012 Vanessa rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
It was interesting to read about the historical and societal underpinnings of Mad Men, but I wish there'd been more facts and less pretentious and overdone commentary about the meaningfulness of events and actions in the show.

E.g. When talking about the 1960s shift from teachers as authority figures to teachers as mentors and caregivers: "Suzanne softened those cold columns of long division on the chalkboard with some touchy-feelyness."

Also, note that while the book contains many pictures,
May 17, 2012 Dominic rated it liked it
This is more of a stroll than a romp. Some of the sections, particularly the ones on the history of advertising, sexuality and literature, were pretty fascinating but I wish these were longer. Others, like decor and fashion, couldn't build up enough intrigue to make we want to read them fully.

So this is a pretty hit-and-miss compilation, but it was generally enjoyable since Mad Men is, hands down, the best TV show ever. There should have been a little more analysis of the show built in throughou
Nov 22, 2010 Vicki rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I love this show -- it's a visual feast, the writing is sublime, and overall, I continue to be surprised. It makes a point in history come alive. It's so easy to look at it with 2010 eyes, but the trick is to look at it with sixties eyes as well. This book does a bit along that way. I love Tom & Lorenzo's Project Rungay posts about the show and its fashion -- it gives such a fantastic context to the look of it all. But this is an interesting book for other elements -- sex education pamphlets ...more
Jan 09, 2015 Tracie rated it really liked it
Shelves: challenge-2015
I will openly confess that I am addicted to "Mad Men". The sets, the clothing, the style, the characters--everything is expertly crafted and true to the era. This book confirms that statement. Vargas-Cooper's look into the mores, styles, and social complexities of the MadMen era is fascinating--and fun! And, the inside look at the fathers of modern advertising--Burnett, Ogilvy, Koenig, and the like, incited a major "geek out" event for me.

I might just have to re-watch the first six seasons, just
Feb 14, 2011 Vanessa rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I ended up being somewhat disappointed by this one since I expected more depth along with historical and cultural details about the 1960s as they related to the TV show. Each topic is only briefly discussed in a page or two, and there are lots of images and graphics as accompaniment. As soon as I settled into one topic, its segment was over. The breezy coverage (I suppose it's a "romp" after all) undermines the book's potential. Nevertheless, there still were plenty of interesting things to lear ...more
Apr 08, 2013 Jennifer rated it liked it
As a Mad men fan, I find it fun to find books that add a bit of dimension to my viewing, especially of they can shed light on the era, the people, or the fashions. This book succeeds in all those ways, offering essays on everything from influential ad-men of that time, to information about interior design, to explanations of the books characters have read.

It's a superficial treatment of several subjects, but it is just enough reading to get you immersed in the 60s.
Richard Gartee
Apr 05, 2014 Richard Gartee rated it liked it
This book is a collection of 1-2 page essays, old photos and actual ads from the period covered by the Mad Men TV series. It takes character traits and incidents from the series and explains the 1950s and 1960s attitudes that substantiate them. A fan of Mad Men, the author shows us mainly how accurate the shows writers were. I found it interesting, but it's brief articles make it closer to an illustrated book of factoids.
Sep 14, 2010 Nick rated it it was amazing
This book may not, in fact, be for those who think Mad Men is just an interesting TV show. There may be no hope for those who continue to miss the astute social commentary and examination that Mad Men offers to its viewers. And while we all know (or tell ourselves how much we know) that advertising manipulates the masses, we consistently fail to see how we, as individuals, are also part of those masses.
I believe this book has covered three seasons (I'm not sure about the fourth, but I've watched Seasons 1, 2 + 5 so my attitude towards spoilers have been YOLO).

The beginning of the book was more promising; I thought that the influences behind the characters were interesting. However, overall the book seems to just glaze over topics that are shown in Mad Men and not go into depth. Unfortunately, it falls short of a good behinds-the-scene source.
Brook Bakay
Apr 04, 2011 Brook Bakay rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011
It's good but left me wanting more. As in the show, I really got into the Ad campaigns themselves, and wanted to learn more about the thinking behind them. There is a chapter on that, but just one, and a lot more on life in the early sixties. It is very good for pointing out references in the show that I missed when I watched it. It's a fast read, and you'll feel cool doing it.

Now to find a book on the history of advertising.
Jun 25, 2011 TrumanCoyote rated it liked it
Generally fun throughout, although got a bit overbearing and waspish (not to mention sententious) in places, especially toward the end, when it came to resemble one of those alternative weekly throwaways, the kind where all the writers know everything and nobody else really gives a damn what they have to say. Still, enjoyed the "romp through [early] 1960s America." I've never seen the show btw, which did lead to a few confusions.
Jul 23, 2010 Betty rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010, women-authors
A collection of essays on the cultural forces in America in the early 1960s- the setting of Mad Men. While the show provides the framework for the book, the book is less concerned with plot analysis and more with dissection of actual history and pop culture that informed the era. Beautiful photographs and vintage advertisements accompany every essay. Rich in content and wit.
Feb 22, 2011 Liz rated it liked it
My ranking is probably more like a 3.5 - the book was very entertaining and made me realize how much research must be behind the various 1960's references in the TV show. It wasn't quite a 4 because there isn't a lot of depth - the cultural essays are more like a quickly digested bite than a full meal.
Dec 26, 2011 Bethany rated it liked it
Shelves: 1960s
I found this interesting to place Mad Men in a historical context but I didn't find it too well written and I found that the little blurbs often felt incomplete or just hung at the end. It was frustrating as well to see images all throughout the book with no captions -- clearly they went along side the section they were with but one was often unclear of exactly the event or personality.
Jul 31, 2010 Carolyn rated it really liked it
I'm a huge fan of Mad Men (one of the few scripted tv shows I watch anymore) and I'm fascinated by American cultural and social history, so this book seemed like a natural. It was a fast, breezy read that used the basic structure of Mad Men to illustrate what was going on in 50s and 60s America. I had fun and learned a few things while I was at it.
Mar 06, 2015 Tarryn rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Basically, a collection of short essays giving some brief cultural context for Don Draper's smoke-filled, gin-soaked world . . . Or is it bourbon-soaked? Whatever the hell he drinks. There are a few interesting tidbits here, but it's mostly a broad overview of life and times in the 60's, with some cursory connections to our favorite Mad Men characters. A fun, light, bus-ride type read.
Aug 06, 2010 Larry rated it liked it
Cute and fun. Sprightly writing and fascinating, particularly when it was explicating things I didn't already know, like the real-life movers and shakers of 60s advertising and their theories of the best approach.

It's basically a website dump, but if you're obsessed with Mad Men, it's a compelling website. The material does tend to concentrate more on the first season or two.
Aug 25, 2010 Zahreen rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book - it was too much fun to read. If you are a die hard Mad Men fan like myself, this book gives you 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.).
Mar 13, 2012 Ekaterina rated it really liked it
It was a good intro read - in my case, I needed a primer on the names and stories that were referred to in the series. Some were quite obvious, some not so much, so four stars it is for a good read! Now, I'll dig into something deeper on the subject. :-)
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