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The Shocking History of Advertising by E. S.…

The Shocking History of Advertising

by E. S. Turner

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First published in 1952, I can imagine this book would have been read by Peggy Olsen as part of her research on how to make it on Madison.

The writing style feels anachronistically modern, with its pessimistic humour and the author's knack for picking sordid and surprising details of history, much like Mary Roach and Bill Bryson are publishing today. In a work like this I'm not planting any plot spoilers by offering the final sentence as an example of the tone:

"Advertising, after all, is the mirror of man, and man has never been in serious danger of becoming bogged down in grace."

While I first suspected the title of this book was a spoof on advertising itself, I changed my mind as I read. The history of advertising truly is shocking. While the history necessarily stops around 1950, it's a relevant story even today. By looking at the extreme examples of non-regulated advertising and its unfortunate victims of yesteryear, today's more subtle and pernicious advertising travesties become only more apparent. I can imagine a version of this being published 50 years from now, with examples from 2014 which are as shocking as any advertising ever was. ( )
  LynleyS | Aug 10, 2014 |
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