Advertising has played a central role in shaping the history of modern media. While often identified with American consumerism and the rise of the 'Information Society', motion picture advertising has been part of European visual culture since the late nineteenth century. With the global spread of ad agencies, moving image advertisements became a privileged cultural form to make people experience the qualities and uses of branded commodities, to articulate visions of a 'good life', and to incite social relationships. Abandoning a conventional delineation of fields by medium, country, or period, this book suggests a lateral view. It charts the audiovisual history of advertising by focussing on objects (products and services), screens (exhibition, programming, physical media), practices (production, marketing), and intermediaries (ad agencies). In this way, the book develops new historical, methodological, and theoretical perspectives.
Advertising at War challenges the notion that advertising disappeared as a political issue in the United States in 1938 with the passage of the Wheeler-Lea Amendment to the Federal Trade Commission Act, the result of more than a decade of campaigning to regulate the advertising industry. Inger L. Stole suggests that the war experience, even more than the legislative battles of the 1930s, defined the role of advertising in U.S. postwar political economy and the nation's cultural firmament. She argues that Washington and Madison Avenue were soon working in tandem with the creation of the Advertising Council in 1942, a joint effort established by the Office of War Information, the Association of National Advertisers, and the American Association of Advertising Agencies.
Using archival sources, newspapers accounts, and trade publications, Stole demonstrates that the war elevated and magnified the seeming contradictions of advertising and allowed critics of these practices one final opportunity to corral and regulate the institution of advertising. Exploring how New Dealers and consumer advocates such as the Consumers Union battled the advertising industry, Advertising at War traces the debate over two basic policy questions: whether advertising should continue to be a tax-deductible business expense during the war, and whether the government should require effective standards and labeling for consumer products, which would render most advertising irrelevant. Ultimately the postwar climate of political intolerance and reverence for free enterprise quashed critical investigations into the advertising industry. While advertising could be criticized or lampooned, the institution itself became inviolable.
In Advertising Diversity Shalini Shankar explores how racial and ethnic differences are created and commodified through advertisements, marketing, and public relations. Drawing from periods of fieldwork she conducted over four years at Asian American ad agencies in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, Shankar illustrates the day-to-day process of creating and producing broadcast and internet advertisements. She examines the adaptation of general market brand identities for Asian American audiences, the ways ad executives make Asian cultural and linguistic concepts accessible to their clients, and the differences between casting Asian Americans in ads for general and multicultural markets. Shankar argues that as a form of racialized communication, advertising shapes the political and social status of Asian Americans, transforming them from "model minorities" to "model consumers." Asian Americans became visible in the twenty-first century United States through a process Shankar calls "racial naturalization." Once seen as foreign, their framing as model consumers has legitimized their presence in the American popular culture landscape. By making the category of Asian American suitable for consumption, ad agencies shape and refine the population they aim to represent.
In the 1930s, the United States almost regulated advertising to a degree that seems unthinkable today. Activists viewed modern advertising as propaganda that undermined the ability of consumers to live in a healthy civic environment. Organized consumer movements fought the emerging ad business and its practices with fierce political opposition.
Inger L. Stole examines how consumer activists sought to limit corporate influence by rallying popular support to moderate and change advertising. Stole weaves the story through the extensive use of primary sources, including archival research done with consumer and trade group records, as well as trade journals and engagement with the existing literature. Her account of the struggle also demonstrates how public relations developed in order to justify laissez-faire corporate advertising in light of a growing consumer rights movement, and how the failure to rein in advertising was significant not just for civic life in the 1930s but for our era as well.
A nineteenth-century entrepreneur’s bold, innovative marketing helped transform flower gardens into one of America’s favorite hobbies.
“There is much that is hard and productive of sorrow in this sin-plagued world of ours; and, had we no flowers, I believe existence would be hard to be borne.” So states a customer’s 1881 letter—one of thousands James Vick regularly received. Vick’s business, selling flower seeds through the mail, wasn’t unique, but it was wildly successful because he understood better than his rivals how to engage customers’ emotions. He sold the love of flowers along with the flower seeds.
Vick was genuinely passionate about floriculture, but he also pioneered what we now describe as integrated marketing. He spent a mind-boggling $100,000 per year on advertising (mostly to women, his target demographic); he courted newspaper editors for free publicity; his educational guides presaged today’s content marketing; he recruited social influencers to popularize neighborhood gardening clubs; and he developed a visually rich communication and branding strategy to build customer loyalty and inflect their purchasing needs with purchasing desire.
The popular image of a midcentury adwoman is of a feisty girl beating men at their own game, a female Horatio Alger protagonist battling her way through the sexist workplace. But before the fictional rise of Peggy Olson or the real-life stories of Patricia Tierney and Jane Maas came Jean Wade Rindlaub: a female power broker who used her considerable success in the workplace to encourage other women—to stick to their kitchens.
The Angel in the Marketplace is the story of one of America’s most accomplished advertising executives. It is also the story of how advertisers like Rindlaub sold a postwar American dream of capitalism and a Christian corporate order. Rindlaub was responsible for award-winning, mega sales-generating advertisements for all things domestic, including Oneida silverware, Betty Crocker cake mix, Campbell’s soup, and Chiquita bananas. Her success largely came from embracing, rather than subverting, the cultural expectations of women. She believed her responsibility as an advertiser was not to spring women from their trap, but to make that trap more comfortable.
Rindlaub wasn’t just selling silverware and cakes; she was selling the virtues of free enterprise. By following the arc of Rindlaub’s career from the 1920s through the 1960s, we witness how a range of cultural narratives—advertising chief among them—worked powerfully to shape women’s emotional and economic behavior in support of the free market system. Alongside Rindlaub’s story, Ellen Wayland-Smith provides a riveting history of how women were repeatedly sold the idea that their role as housewives was more powerful, and more patriotic, than any outside the home. And by buying into the image of morality through an unregulated market, many of these women helped fuel backlash against economic regulation and socialization efforts throughout the twentieth century.
The Angel in the Marketplace is a nuanced portrayal of a complex woman, one who both shaped and reflected the complicated cultural, political, and religious forces defining femininity in America at mid-century. This compelling account of one of advertising’s most fervent believers is a tale of a Mad Woman we haven’t been told.
The award-winning classic on why we must revolutionise the fashion industry
*Selected by Emma Watson for her Ultimate Book List*
Fashion is political. From the red carpets of the Met Gala to online fast fashion, clothes tell a story of inequality, racism, and climate crisis. In The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion, Tansy E. Hoskins unpicks the threads of capitalist industry to reveal the truth about our clothes.
Fashion brands entice us to consume more by manipulating us to feel ugly, poor and worthless, sentiments that line the pockets of billionaires exploiting colonial supply chains. Garment workers on poverty pay risk their lives in dangerous factories, animals are tortured, fossil fuels extracted and toxic chemicals spread just to keep this season's collections fresh.
We can do better than this. Moving between Karl Lagerfeld and Karl Marx, The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion goes beyond ethical fashion and consumer responsibility showing that if we want to feel comfortable in our clothes, we need to reshape the system and ensure this is not our last season.
One part riveting account of fieldwork and one part rigorous academic study, Brand New China offers a unique perspective on the advertising and marketing culture of China. Jing Wang’s experiences in the disparate worlds of Beijing advertising agencies and the U.S. academy allow her to share a unique perspective on China during its accelerated reintegration into the global market system.
Brand New China offers a detailed, penetrating, and up-to-date portrayal of branding and advertising in contemporary China. Wang takes us inside an advertising agency to show the influence of American branding theories and models. She also examines the impact of new media practices on Chinese advertising, deliberates on the convergence of grassroots creative culture and viral marketing strategies, samples successful advertising campaigns, provides practical insights about Chinese consumer segments, and offers methodological reflections on pop culture and advertising research.
This book unveils a “brand new” China that is under the sway of the ideology of global partnership while struggling not to become a mirror image of the United States. Wang takes on the task of showing where Western thinking works in China, where it does not, and, perhaps most important, where it creates opportunities for cross-fertilization.
Thanks to its combination of engaging vignettes from the advertising world and thorough research that contextualizes these vignettes, Brand New China will be of interest to industry participants, students of popular culture, and the general reading public interested in learning about a rapidly transforming Chinese society.
Combining shrewd analysis of contemporary practices with a historical perspective, Breaking Up America traces the momentous shift that began in the mid-1970s when advertisers rejected mass marketing in favor of more aggressive target marketing. Turow shows how advertisers exploit differences between consumers based on income, age, gender, race, marital status, ethnicity, and lifesyles.
"An important book for anyone wanting insight into the advertising and media worlds of today. In plain English, Joe Turow explains not only why our television set is on, but what we are watching. The frightening part is that we are being watched as we do it."—Larry King
"Provocative, sweeping and well made . . . Turow draws an efficient portrait of a marketing complex determined to replace the 'society-making media' that had dominated for most of this century with 'segment-making media' that could zero in on the demographic and psychodemographic corners of our 260-million-person consumer marketplace."—Randall Rothenberg, Atlantic Monthly
While the youth counterculture remains the most evocative and best-remembered symbol of the cultural ferment of the 1960s, the revolution that shook American business during those boom years has gone largely unremarked. In this fascinating and revealing study, Thomas Frank shows how the youthful revolutionaries were joined—and even anticipated —by such unlikely allies as the advertising industry and the men's clothing business.
"[Thomas Frank is] perhaps the most provocative young cultural critic of the moment."—Gerald Marzorati, New York Times Book Review
"An indispensable survival guide for any modern consumer."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Frank makes an ironclad case not only that the advertising industry cunningly turned the countercultural rhetoric of revolution into a rallying cry to buy more stuff, but that the process itself actually predated any actual counterculture to exploit."—Geoff Pevere, Toronto Globe and Mail
"The Conquest of Cool helps us understand why, throughout the last third of the twentieth century, Americans have increasingly confused gentility with conformity, irony with protest, and an extended middle finger with a populist manifesto. . . . His voice is an exciting addition to the soporific public discourse of the late twentieth century."—T. J. Jackson Lears, In These Times
"An invaluable argument for anyone who has ever scoffed at hand-me-down counterculture from the '60s. A spirited and exhaustive analysis of the era's advertising."—Brad Wieners, Wired Magazine
"Tom Frank is . . . not only old-fashioned, he's anti-fashion, with a place in his heart for that ultimate social faux pas, leftist politics."—Roger Trilling, Details
How does advertising really work? This thoroughly revised edition of Ivan Preston’s popular classic, The Great American Blow-Up, provides new examples of puffery and deceit in advertising. Preston examines in detail the role of laws and the Federal Trade Commission in ensuring fair representation of goods and services to consumers. In a new concluding chapter, Preston describes and assesses developments in the field of advertising from the mid–1970s to the present.
Fountain Pens—The Super-Pen for Our Super-Men Ladies! Learn to Drive! Your Country Needs Women Drivers! Do you drink German water?
When Britain declared war on Germany in 1914, industrious companies wasted no time in seizing the commercial opportunities presented by the conflict. Without TV or radio, newspapers provided one of the few ways in which the British public could get reliable news of the war. To cater to their rising readerships, advertising emerged as the new science of sales, growing increasingly sophisticated throughout the war years in both visual presentation and psychological appeal.
The Huns Have Got my Gramophone! collects some of the most compelling and cleverly worded original advertisements created between 1914 and 1918. Many of the advertisements are aimed at women, from fearless guard dogs promising protection while husbands are away to soaps and skin creams for “beauty on duty.” Others use the power of patriotism to push new products for men, including “officers’ waterproof trench coats,” and one young officer writing in the Times attests to the coats’ superior weather resistance by boldly asserting that he’d leave his sword behind before he left his Burberry. Together, the advertisements collected in the book reveal how advertisers sought to create new markets for products that took into account social change throughout the course of the conflict.
Featuring a range of products, from clothing, cigarettes, and invalid carriages to motorcycles and portable Decca phonographs—the “ideal gramophone for active service”—the book offers a new and unexpected source of historical information and an intimate glimpse of a nation at war.
Talking dogs pitching ethnic food. Heart-tugging appeals for contributions. Recruitment calls for enlistment in the military. Tub-thumpers excoriating American society with over-the-top rhetoric. At every turn, Americans are exhorted to spend money, join organizations, rally to causes, or express outrage. Image Makers is a comprehensive analysis of modern advocacy-from commercials to public service ads to government propaganda-and its roots in advertising and public relations.
Robert Jackall and Janice M. Hirota explore the fashioning of the apparatus of advocacy through the stories of two organizations, the Committee on Public Information, which sold the Great War to the American public, and the Advertising Council, which since the Second World War has been the main coordinator of public service advertising. They then turn to the career of William Bernbach, the adman's adman, who reinvented advertising and grappled creatively with the profound skepticism of a propaganda-weary midcentury public. Jackall and Hirota argue that the tools-in-trade and habits of mind of "image makers" have now migrated into every corner of modern society. Advocacy is now a vocation for many, and American society abounds as well with "technicians in moral outrage," including street-smart impresarios, feminist preachers, and bombastic talk-radio hosts.
The apparatus and ethos of advocacy give rise to endlessly shifting patterns of conflicting representations and claims, and in their midst Image Makers offers a clear and spirited understanding of advocacy in contemporary society and the quandaries it generates.
It is easy to dismiss advertising as simply the background chatter of modern life, often annoying, sometimes hilarious, and ultimately meaningless. But Kerri P. Steinberg argues that a careful study of the history of advertising can reveal a wealth of insight into a culture. In Jewish Mad Men, Steinberg looks specifically at how advertising helped shape the evolution of American Jewish life and culture over the past one hundred years.
Drawing on case studies of famous advertising campaigns—from Levy’s Rye Bread (“You don’t have to be Jewish to love Levy’s”) to Hebrew National hot dogs (“We answer to a higher authority”)—Steinberg examines advertisements from the late nineteenth-century in New York, the center of advertising in the United States, to trace changes in Jewish life there and across the entire country. She looks at ads aimed at the immigrant population, at suburbanites in midcentury, and at hipster and post-denominational Jews today.
In addition to discussing campaigns for everything from Manischewitz wine to matzoh, Jewish Mad Men also portrays the legendary Jewish figures in advertising—like Albert Lasker and Bill Bernbach—and lesser known “Mad Men” like Joseph Jacobs, whose pioneering agency created the brilliantly successful Maxwell House Coffee Haggadah. Throughout, Steinberg uses the lens of advertising to illuminate the Jewish trajectory from outsider to insider, and the related arc of immigration, acculturation, upward mobility, and suburbanization.
Anchored in the illustrations, photographs, jingles, and taglines of advertising, Jewish Mad Men features a dozen color advertisements and many black-and-white images. Lively and insightful, this book offers a unique look at both advertising and Jewish life in the United States.
“It shall be the chosen land, perpetual sunshine shall kiss its trees and vines, and, being storied in luscious fruits and compressed into ruddy wine, will be sent to the four points of the compass to gladden the hearts of all mankind . . . They will breathe the pure and bracing air, bask in the healing sunshine, drink the invigorating wine, and eat the lifeprolonging fruit.”—from a brochure advertising the Staked Plains fromthe Missouri Pacific Railway Company, 1889Land of Bright Promise is a fascinating exploration of the multitude of land promotions and types of advertising that attracted more than 175,000 settlers to the Panhandle–South Plains area of Texas from the late years of the nineteenth century to the early years of the twentieth. Shunned by settlers for decades because of its popular but forbidding image as a desert filled with desperados, savage Indians, and solitary ranchers, the region was seen as an agricultural and cultural wasteland. The territ0ry, consequently, was among the last to be settled in the United States. But from 1890 to 1917, land companies and agents competed to attract new settlers to the plains. To this end, the combined efforts of local residents, ranchers and landowners, railroads, and professional real estate agents were utilized. Through brochures, lectures, articles, letters, fairs, and excursion trips, midwestern farmers were encouraged to find new homes on what was once feared as the “Great American Desert.” And successful indeed were these efforts: from 13,787 in 1890, the population grew to 193,371 in 1920, with a corresponding increase in the amount of farms and farm acreage. The book looks at the imagination, enthusiasm, and determination of land promoters as they approached their task, including their special advertisements and displays to show the potential of the area. Treating the important roles of the cattlemen, the railroads, the professional land companies, and local boosters, Land of Bright Promise also focuses on the intentions and expectations of the settlers themselves. Of special interest are the fifteen historical photographs and reproductions of promotional pieces from the era used to spur the land boom. What emerges is an engaging look at a critical period in the development of the Texas Panhandle and an overview of the shift from cattle to agriculture as the primary industry in the area.
In Living Up to the Ads Simone Weil Davis examines commodity culture’s impact on popular notions of gender and identity during the 1920s. Arguing that the newly ascendant advertising industry introduced three new metaphors for personhood—the ad man, the female consumer, and the often female advertising model or spokesperson—Davis traces the emergence of the pervasive gendering of American consumerism. Materials from advertising firms—including memos, manuals, meeting minutes, and newsletters—are considered alongside the fiction of Sinclair Lewis, Nella Larsen, Bruce Barton, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Zelda Fitzgerald. Davis engages such books as Babbitt, Quicksand, and Save Me the Waltz in original and imaginative ways, asking each to participate in her discussion of commodity culture, gender, and identity. To illuminate the subjective, day-to-day experiences of 1920s consumerism in the United States, Davis juxtaposes print ads and industry manuals with works of fiction. Capturing the maverick voices of some of the decade’s most influential advertisers and writers, Davis reveals the lines that were drawn between truths and lies, seduction and selling, white and black, and men and women. Davis’s methodology challenges disciplinary borders by employing historical, sociological, and literary practices to discuss the enduring links between commodity culture, gender, and identity construction. Living Up to the Ads will appeal to students and scholars of advertising, American studies, women’s studies, cultural studies, and early-twentieth-century American history.
A deep dive into the political roots of advertising on the internet
The contemporary internet’s de facto business model is one of surveillance. Browser cookies follow us around the web, Amazon targets us with eerily prescient ads, Facebook and Google read our messages and analyze our patterns, and apps record our every move. In Profit over Privacy, Matthew Crain gives internet surveillance a much-needed origin story by chronicling the development of its most important historical catalyst: web advertising.
The first institutional and political history of internet advertising, Profit over Privacy uses the 1990s as its backdrop to show how the massive data-collection infrastructure that undergirds the internet today is the result of twenty-five years of technical and political economic engineering. Crain considers the social causes and consequences of the internet’s rapid embrace of consumer monitoring, detailing how advertisers and marketers adapted to the existential threat of the internet and marshaled venture capital to develop the now-ubiquitous business model called “surveillance advertising.” He draws on a range of primary resources from government, industry, and the press and highlights the political roots of internet advertising to underscore the necessity of political solutions to reign in unaccountable commercial surveillance.
The dominant business model on the internet, surveillance advertising is the result of political choices—not the inevitable march of technology. Unlike many other countries, the United States has no internet privacy law. A fascinating prehistory of internet advertising giants like Google and Facebook, Profit over Privacy argues that the internet did not have to turn out this way and that it can be remade into something better.
Spanning a century, Pushing Cool reveals how the twin deceptions of health and Black affinity for menthol were crafted—and how the industry’s disturbingly powerful narrative has endured to this day.
Police put Eric Garner in a fatal chokehold for selling cigarettes on a New York City street corner. George Floyd was killed by police outside a store in Minneapolis known as “the best place to buy menthols.” Black smokers overwhelmingly prefer menthol brands such as Kool, Salem, and Newport. All of this is no coincidence. The disproportionate Black deaths and cries of “I can’t breathe” that ring out in our era—because of police violence, COVID-19, or menthol smoking—are intimately connected to a post-1960s history of race and exploitation.
In Pushing Cool, Keith Wailoo tells the intricate and poignant story of menthol cigarettes for the first time. He pulls back the curtain to reveal the hidden persuaders who shaped menthol buying habits and racial markets across America: the world of tobacco marketers, consultants, psychologists, and social scientists, as well as Black lawmakers and civic groups including the NAACP. Today most Black smokers buy menthols, and calls to prohibit their circulation hinge on a history of the industry’s targeted racial marketing. In 2009, when Congress banned flavored cigarettes as criminal enticements to encourage youth smoking, menthol cigarettes were also slated to be banned. Through a detailed study of internal tobacco industry documents, Wailoo exposes why they weren’t and how they remain so popular with Black smokers.
A leading Bombay advertising agency justifies as traditionally Indian the highly eroticized images it produces to promote the KamaSutra condom brand. Another agency struggles to reconcile the global ambitions of a cellular-phone service provider with the ambivalently local connotations of the client’s corporate brand. When the dream of the 250 million-strong “Indian middle class” goes sour, Indian advertising and marketing professionals search for new ways to market “the Indian consumer”—now with added cultural difference—to multinational clients.
An examination of the complex cultural politics of mass consumerism in a globalized marketplace, Shoveling Smoke is a pathbreaking and detailed ethnography of the contemporary Indian advertising industry. It is also a critical and innovative intervention into current theoretical debates on the intersection of consumerist globalization, aesthetic politics, and visual culture. William Mazzarella traces the rise in India during the 1980s of mass consumption as a self-consciously sensuous challenge to the austerities of state-led developmentalism. He shows how the decisive opening of Indian markets to foreign brands in the 1990s refigured established models of the relationship between the local and the global and, ironically, turned advertising professionals into custodians of cultural integrity.
Signs orient, inform, persuade, and regulate. They help give meaning to our natural and human-built environment, to landscape and place. In Signs in America’s Auto Age, cultural geographer John Jakle and historian Keith Sculle explore the ways in which we take meaning from outdoor signs and assign meaning to our surroundings—the ways we “read” landscape. With an emphasis on how the use of signs changed as the nation’s geography reorganized around the coming of the automobile, Jakle and Sculle consider the vast array of signs that have evolved since the beginning of the twentieth century.
From the early days of radio through the rise of television after World War II to the present, music has been used more and more to sell goods and establish brand identities. And since the 1920s, songs originally written for commercials have become popular songs, and songs written for a popular audience have become irrevocably associated with specific brands and products. Today, musicians move flexibly between the music and advertising worlds, while the line between commercial messages and popular music has become increasingly blurred.
Timothy D. Taylor tracks the use of music in American advertising for nearly a century, from variety shows like The Clicquot Club Eskimos to the rise of the jingle, the postwar upsurge in consumerism, and the more complete fusion of popular music and consumption in the 1980s and after. The Sounds of Capitalism is the first book to tell truly the history of music used in advertising in the United States and is an original contribution to this little-studied part of our cultural history.
An academic review of the major marketing techniques that transformed advertising communication forever.
This book takes an in-depth look at the most important and transcendent strategic advertising mechanisms to emerge in the twentieth century. Charting trends in classic advertising methodologies, the author explores key concepts from Rosser Reeves’s unique selling proposition and Procter & Gamble’s copy strategy to influential modern approaches including Kevin Roberts’s Lovemarks and Douglas Holt’s iconic brand framework. It also considers European mechanisms, including Jacques Séguéla’s star strategy and Henri Joannis’ psychological axis theory. Practitioners, researchers, scholars, and students will find much to gain from this rich exploration of the strategies that shaped modern advertising and the figures behind them.
A novel investigation of pro bono marketing and the relationship between goods, exploring the complex moral dimensions of philanthropic advertising.
The advertising industry may seem like one of the most craven manifestations of capitalism, turning consumption into a virtue. In Tangled Goods, authors Iddo Tavory, Sonia Prelat, and Shelly Ronen consider an important dimension of the advertising industry that appears to depart from the industry’s consumerist foundations: pro bono ad campaigns. Why is an industry known for biting cynicism and cutthroat competition also an industry in which people dedicate time and effort to “doing good”?
Interviewing over seventy advertising professionals and managers, the authors trace the complicated meanings of the good in these pro bono projects. Doing something altruistic, they show, often helps employees feel more at ease working for big pharma or corporate banks. Often these projects afford them greater creative leeway than they normally have, as well as the potential for greater recognition. While the authors uncover different motivations behind pro bono work, they are more interested in considering how various notions of the good shift, with different motivations and benefits rising to the surface at different moments. This book sheds new light on how goodness and prestige interact with personal and altruistic motivations to produce value for individuals and institutions and produces a novel theory of the relationship among goods: one of the most fraught questions in sociological theory.
Written for the ordinary consumer as well as for advertisers and trade regulators, this book aims to demonstrate how advertising can better serve its audience. Ivan Preston takes us down the slippery slope, from the high ground of honest product information to the unscrupulous bottom-of-the-barrel claims that are wholly false. Along the way he documents the subtle misrepresentations, half and lesser truths, and exploitations of our gullibility that abound in contemporary advertising.
Agricultural and urban development came late to the Texas South Plains, and frontier life lingered well into the twentieth century. In the decade preceding World War I numerous land companies flourished in the area and acted as catalysts for settlement and economic expansion. Prominent among these companies was the Plainview-based Texas Land and Development Company, founded in 1912 as an operating agent for a syndicate of eastern financiers. Like most land companies, the Texas Land and Development Company operated a large-scale enterprise that broke up ranch holdings into tracts for sale to farmers. Company agents advertised broadly in newspapers and magazines and organized special train trips to bring prospective customers to the area. And, like most entrepreneurs associated with frontier land companies, backers of the Texas Land and Development Company hoped to realize a quick profit from land sales. The Plainview enterprise was, however, unique in many ways. It promoted relatively high-priced lands and tried to sell fully developed, irrigated farms. The company was an important social and economic force in Plainview and the surrounding counties because its backers put capital into the region instead of taking money out. Especially during the early years, the company realized little profit from sales because of war and depression. The complex and sophisticated fiscal structure of the company is of particular historical significance. B. R. Brunson traces the history of the influential Texas Land and Development Company from its inception in 1912 to its final dissolution in January 1956. He combines an analysis of the company's role in Panhandle economic growth with lively biographies of the men who organized the operation and descriptions of their achievements in the fields of irrigation, farm planning, company organization, and finance.