Straightforward, well-crafted biography of the outsider who shaped American advertising.



The former chairman and CEO of Ogilvy & Mather offers a portrait of the ad agency’s legendary founder.

Roman begins with expatriate Brit David Ogilvy, nearly 40, quietly opening his first Manhattan office on Madison Avenue in 1948 after short stints as a chef, a poll researcher for Gallup and an Amish country farmer. A business novice with negligible advertising experience, known to don a “full-length flowing black cape with a scarlet lining” that made him look “like Heathcliff coming off the moors,” Ogilvy took the advertising industry by storm in just ten years. He started small then advanced quickly with an unmatched portfolio of campaigns for high-profile companies like Schweppes, Dove, Tetley Tea, Pepperidge Farm and Rolls-Royce. Culled from memories of his 26-year stint working alongside Ogilvy, plus nearly 200 interviews with business contemporaries and close acquaintances, Roman reveals how the ad man earned his peers’ supreme respect with his interrogative, disarming presence, yet retained an outspoken shrewdness. The author does note, however, that while Ogilvy achieved many public accolades throughout his professional career, his personal life was troublesome. His first two marriages ended in divorce, and he never fulfilled his desire for a large family. His not-terribly-happy childhood was scanted in his 1978 autobiography Blood, Brains and Beer; Roman fills in the blanks here. Plagued with chronic asthma, he had “a distinctly original mind” that did not jibe with his teachers at an oppressive British boarding school or at Oxford. His grades suffered, and he struggled with low self-esteem. Psychotherapy in middle age revitalized and overstimulated his suppressed ego; he could be, the author notes, “self-centered and inconsiderate.” Ogilvy retired to a palatial French chateau in 1973 and died in the summer of 1999, leaving behind an unrivaled advertising legacy. An afterword containing unpublished correspondence and a generous selection of photographs draws readers further into his world.

Straightforward, well-crafted biography of the outsider who shaped American advertising.

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4039-7895-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2008

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 15

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

Did you like this book?