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Sunday, March 25, 2012

'Mad Men' and women write real-life books about that era

It's been a mad, mad, mad, mad, maddeningly long wait for new episodes of AMC's Mad Men.

And as we count down to the premiere of Season 5 on March 25, fans of Don Draper, Roger Sterling and Peggy Olson can immerse themselves in Madison Avenue and the '60s lifestyle by dipping into a groaning cocktail cart of new books.

Among them: Mad Women: The Other Side of Life on Madison Avenue in the '60s and Beyond (Thomas Dunne Books, $24.99), written by Jane Maas, dubbed the "real-life Peggy Olson" by Ad Age magazine.

Like the fictional Olson, Maas, 80, began working as a copywriter on Madison Avenue in the 1960s. Her memoir and her workplace recollections indicate "there's a lot of stuff Mad Men gets absolutely right," Maas tells USA TODAY, including:

The three-martini lunch. "Absolutely true, although women did not in fact go out for three-martini lunches as often as men did. Women tended to brown-bag it a lot more. It was more work ethic and calorie control."

The sex. "Part of it was because of all the drinking. If you happened upon someone in the stairwell kissing an account executive, and you knew both of them were married to other people, you just averted your eyes and walked on."

The fashion. "There were no pantyhose then — it hadn't been invented yet — so we had stockings with seams you had to keep checking on. We had little garter belts, and over that, we wore little panties and these bras that turned your breasts into javelins."

Real-life Don Drapers. "The creative director who sexually harassed me for two years and pursued me relentlessly was incredibly handsome, very dashing and he knew it. Like Don Draper, he considered himself a great Lothario."

For a more straightforward history, there's The Real Mad Men: The Renegades of Madison Avenue and the Golden Age of Advertising (Running Press, $28) by British adman Andrew Cracknell, who says Mad Men is "spot on."

"I've viewed some episodes of Mad Men three times, and believe me, that's not a chore. It's extraordinarily good, and I think, from all the research I did, it's pretty accurate."

From the cocktail cart

If your interest is purely gustatory:

•How to Drink Like a Mad Man by Ralph Maloney (Dover, $9.95, April 19). Retitled reprint of the 1962 humor book The 24-Hour Drink Book: A Guide to Executive Survival.

•The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Sixties Cookbook: More Than 100 Retro Recipes for the Modern Cook by Rick Rodgers and Heather Maclean (Running Press, $20, April 24). Betty Draper would approve of recipes for Waldorf Salad and Onion Dip.

•The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook: Inside the Kitchens, Bars, and Restaurants of Mad Men by Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin (Smart Pop Books, $16.95). Prepare Oysters Rockefeller and a martini good enough for Roger Sterling.

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