Academic journal article Journalism History

Personalities and Products: A Historical Perspective on American Advertising

Academic journal article Journalism History

Personalities and Products: A Historical Perspective on American Advertising

Article excerpt

Applegate, Edd. Personalites and Products: A Historical Perspective on American Advertising. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press,1998. 192 pp. $57.95.

The preface of Edd Applegate's work begins, "This book is about certain individuals who, in some instances, not only made considerable fortunes in their lifetimes but contributed greatly to advertising." This introduction, combined with the title, may make the reader assume the central focus of the book is advertising history. It is not. Instead, the author has compiled biographical sketches in which the primary focus is on the personal and professional triumphs of individuals. The focus is not on the person's contribution to advertising; this aspect of their lives is most commonly limited to anecdotes.

But while this is not a rich text for advertising historians, it does provide general historical information that may be helpful to those unfamiliar with the individuals and topics at hand. Such readers may find some of the chapters helpful in providing common historical information on some of the people profiled in detail such as P.T. Barnum, Lydia Pinkham, and John Wanamaker.

Beginners and historians alike may enjoy some of the quotations from the period pieces examined. But because the book would have benefited from rigorous editing, the challenge to both the student and historian will be wading through information that is extraneous or poorly integrated. One example is about the fires that plagued Barnum during a period in his life. While the topic is curious, it adds nothing to the subject of the chapter, "How P.T. Barnum Helped Change the Course of Advertising." It serves only as a distraction.

The book is full of such distractions, but just as disturbing are the instances where the reader is left wondering about the absence of pertinent information. …

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