A lightweight but engaging look back at days of long lunches and seemingly infinite expense accounts.

Memories of a Mad Man


A retired adman shares tales of hawking everything from Tareyton cigarettes to the AT&T Yellow Pages in this debut memoir.

For decades, Spector made his living in advertising, and he enjoyed every minute of it. If you’ve ever bought a bottle of Smirnoff vodka or booked a room at the Ramada Inn, he might have had a hand in your decision. (And if you’ve ever cursed that earworm tagline for Wisk detergent, “Ring around the Collar,” he brought you that one, too.) This memoir of those crazy days of three-martini lunches and large-busted secretaries appears designed to capitalize on the immense success of the former AMC TV series Mad Men. His anecdotes are breezy and brief with an inviting gloss of insider knowledge. Consider one Apple computer ad featuring one of Spector’s idols, legendary sci-fi author Ray Bradbury: according to Spector, the reason Bradbury looked so energized and engaged in his photo is because when the picture was taken, they were discussing porn star Linda Lovelace. He also tells of an ultrasecret meeting in 1970 regarding “Project Red Eye,” which turned out to be an early demonstration of the fax machine (“Coast to Coast in 6 Minutes” the copy brags). In a chapter titled “The Truth About Truth In Advertising,” the author remembers testing a shaving cream’s claim that it’s so good, “it can shave sandpaper.” It turned out to be true—depending on what kind of sandpaper you used, he notes. Spector can be quite funny, as when he avers that “The expense account is probably responsible for more hangovers than anything else in the modern world.” The book’s major drawback, though, may be the Mad Men hook that initially grabs one’s attention. This may mislead some readers, because although Spector hints at wild times, his behavior is that of a gentleman; he may diss a colleague who likes to take credit for others’ ideas, but that’s about as far as he’ll go. Still, although Spector isn’t as naughty as Don Draper, he still has plenty of stories to tell. He’s a genial companion for a whirl around Madison Avenue’s not-too-distant past, and fans going through Mad Men withdrawal may still find that Spector’s book helps ease their pain.

A lightweight but engaging look back at days of long lunches and seemingly infinite expense accounts.

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5061-9434-9

Page Count: 210

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2016

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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