When asked what the television program “Mad Men” is about, author Natasha Vargas-Cooper usually replies that it concerns the culture clash and contradictions that occurred during the end of the Eisenhower era and the great changes in American society in the 1960s.

This Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning television series inspired Ms. Vargas Cooper to delve into the most interesting and essential references in the program from the early 1960s – advertisements and advertising campaigns, the literature of the decade, the politics and sexual mores of the time. This book, which I found both entertaining and informative, serves as a glossary for fans of the series and also as a social history of this important period in American history.

The wealth of topics covered by the author and invited guest writers range from the biographies of the leading advertising executives to the civil rights movement to the “glass ceiling” limited women’s career choices to the effect of popular movies on popular opinion.

Entries that particularly interested me covered the phenomenally popular “A Tour of the White House with Mrs. John F. Kennedy,” the campaign that broke all the established rules of advertising and persuaded the American public to buy as many as 500,000 Volkswagens a year, and the effect of the film “The Misfits” on the buying habits of American dog owners who stopped buying dog food made of horse meat.

Being a Baby Boomer myself, I remember my family’s VW, Mrs. Kennedy’s tour of the White House, JFK’s assassination, and rallies and demonstrations for racial equality and for ending the Vietnam War.

To inform yourself further about the 1960s in the USA and subjects mentioned in the “Mad Men” television program series, I recommend the following books and DVDs available in your Alameda County Library branches:

Mad men unbuttoned : a romp through 1960s America / Natasha Vargas-Cooper

New York : Collins Design, c2010 791.4575 VARGAS-COOPER

Mad men. Season one [videorecording] / Lions Gate Television Inc. ; created by Matthew Weiner         

Santa Monica, CA : Lionsgate, [2008]                          DVD Fiction MAD

(Seasons Two and Three can also be found under the call number DVD Fiction MAD.  This series is extremely popular, so I recommend placing holds on the seasons you wish to view.)

Eyes on the prize : America’s civil rights years, 1954-1965 / Juan Williams ; with the Eyes on the prize production team ; introduction by Julian Bond 

New York, NY : Viking Penguin, 1987                                323.40973 WILLIAMS

Missiles in Cuba : Kennedy, Khrushchev, Castro, and the 1962 crisis / Mark J. White      

Chicago : Ivan R. Dee, c1997                         973.922 WHITE

The misfits [videorecording] / Seven Arts Productions ; director, John Huston ; producer, Frank E. Taylor ; screenplay, Arthur Miller

Santa Monica, CA : MGM Home Entertainment, 2001          DVD Fiction MISFITS

The man in the gray flannel suit [videorecording] / Darryl F. Zanuck presents ; produced by Darryl F. Zanuck ; screenplay by Nunnally Johnson ; produced by Daryl F. Zanuck ; directed by Nunnally Johnson

Beverly Hills, Calif. : 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, [2005]        DVD Fiction MAN

 The apartment [videorecording] / United Artists ; the Mirisch Company ; written by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond ; produced and directed by Billy Wilder

Santa Monica, Calif. : MGM Home Entertainment, [2001]        DVD Fiction APARTMENT

Atlas shrugged / Ayn Rand

New York, N.Y., U.S.A. : Dutton, [1992]               Fiction RAND, A

The feminine mystique / by Betty Friedan ; introduction by Anna Quindlen

New York : W.W. Norton, 2001                               305.42097 FRIEDAN

Sisterhood is powerful; an anthology of writings from the women’s liberation movement

New York, Random House [1970]                              301.412 MORGAN

Days of wine and roses [videorecording] / Warner Bros. Pictures ; Martin Manulis-Jalem Productions ; director, Blake Edwards ; producer, Martin Manulis ; writer, J.P. Miller

[United States] : Warner Home Video, c2004           DVD Fiction DAYS