With the final series of Mad Men now sadly finished, here are nine books available to loan from Leeds Libraries; nine books that will allow you to re-live – at least part – of the Don Draper chronicles:
Revolutionary Road (Richard Yates)
While Matthew Weiner – the show’s creator – says that he’d never heard of Richard Yates when writing his pilot episode, this 1961 novel about a frustrated suburban couple shares many of the themes later explored in Mad Men.
Weiner, however, openly acknowledges the influence of Cheever – the ‘Bard of Suburbia’ – and especially his highly-regarded short stories. The library has the complete collection, as well as Cheever’s journal, where the torturous – indeed, Draper-esque – contradictions of the author’s life quickly become apparent to the reader.
Mad Men: Dream Come True TV (ed., Gary R. Edgerton)
The relationship between literature and Mad Men is apparent in this fascinating collection of essays by academics exploring the explicit and implicit themes of the show. While the book only covers the first three seasons it does include an interview with series producer Scott Hornbacher, which illuminates some of the story behind the show’s genesis during a golden era for American TV drama.
Two books that further explore that creative explosion in American TV over the last 15-years. Difficult Men provides a narrative account of the background events to the shows in question – from The Sopranos through The Wire and onto Breaking Bad – while Revolution is a more thematic, analytical, look at what each one of those shows brought to viewers.
Noticeably, both the two books above focus almost entirely on those shows telling stories of men; ignoring, for instance, programming like Sex and the City and, more recently, Girls. And, while Mad Men, is ostensibly about the journey of Don Draper, it is as much about the story of Peggy Olsen and the changing nature of female consciousness through the 1960s. This book tells the same story – but as fact, not fiction.
Jane Maas worked under legendary advertising creative David Ogilvy. This biography of Ogilvy details the extraordinary life of one of the – many – models for the fictional Don Draper.
Ogilvy famously spoke of the “lunatics taking over the asylum” during the 1960s – referring to the new generation of publicity-hungry ad-men like Della Femina, who were almost as famous as their creations. Della Femina’s 1970 memoir was an inspiration for Mad Men and he served as a series consultant during the show’s first season.
The Golden Age of Advertising: The 1960s (ed., Jim Heimann)
As brash as the personalities were on Madison Avenue, in the final analysis the advertisements are what truly mattered. This Taschen book contains some of the most memorable adverts from the 1960s; artefacts that hold a mirror to the tumultuous America of the 1960s.
America Divided: The Civil War of the 1960s (Maurice Isserman and Michael Kazin)
Mad Men has “done” the 1960s better than any other comparable cultural work. Eschewing the Forrest Gump approach – in which the central character exists outside history, adapting smoothly to their changing times and being directly affected by the major events of the era – Mad Men is more subtle; showing its characters dealing with that change one day at a time, with the familiar mixture of everyday adaptation, resistance, apathy and passion that defines lives lived in history. America Divided provides the reader with all they need to better understand the life and times of Mad Men’s richly-drawn characters.