Cadillac Books: Cadillac: The Tailfin Years

I received a copy of Cadillac: The Tailfin years by Robert J Headrick Jr. from my brother for Christmas (thanks!).  This 126 page book was published in 2008 by Iconografix.

Cadillac: The Tailfin Years courtesy Amazon

The book covers Cadillacs from the years 1948 through 1964, the peak of the years that Cadillac used prominent tailfins.  The approach the author took, as explained in the preface for the book, was to use the advertising literature of the time to address each model, year by year.  Each chapter addresses one year’s production, with illustrations drawn from actual sales brochures, and actual Cadillac marketing copy to tell the story of that year model.

On the face of it, I like to read advertising copy.  However, the illustrations often contain text that is too small to read (I considered but did not procure a magnifying glass to see if the text is legible if magnified).  Often the text in the ad is repeated as text in the book surrounding the ad.  This is useful, but problematic.  I would prefer to see the ACTUAL brochure or advertising copy, presented in the form/format it appeared at the time.  Then I would like the Author to add some background or context to help me understand what was happening at the time, what Cadillac was trying to do, and how it worked out.  In other words I would like the book to be very clear to segregate the period advertising copy from the Author’s text.

I am left with the feeling that the Author may have attempted my desire in terms of adding context, but because it is impossible to tell where the vintage advertising copy picks up and where the Author’s text ends, I am left wanting more clarity in the presentation.

The back of the book contains a number of full-page Cadillac ads, all marked ‘From the collection of Frank Nelson’.  It escapes me why the Author chose to credit Mr. Nelson on each brochure.  Certainly the brochures themselves would be property of Cadillac to the extent they retain any intellectual property rights.

I do like the year by year photos. Overall although initially I was put off by the presentation, I did find myself coming back and reading through year by year.

The book itself has a full color paper card cover, and 126 pages of text.   The volume is one of the thinner books in my Cadillac library.  It is printed in China.   The suggested price for the book is $34.95, which seems quite dear for this volume.  I would prefer to see it priced under $23, perhaps at $15 or $19.  As a gift, it is a nice addition to my collection of Cadillac books.

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