The Power Of Glamour: Now Available For Pre-Order

POWER OF GLAMOUR final cover
My book The Power of Glamour: Longing and the Art of Visual Persuasion will be out November 5 and is available for pre-order on Amazon. Here's the catalog description:

Critically acclaimed author and Bloomberg View columnist Virginia Postrel offers a provocative theory of glamour, elucidating how this dominant cultural force shapes our most fundamental choices, channels our deepest yearnings, and reveals who we really are.

Skimming the glossy pages of a magazine or glimpsing a flashy billboard, it’s easy to reduce glamour to mere celebrity or glitz. Yet glamour is a potent cultural force whose magic reaches far beyond the spheres of fashion or film, influencing where we choose to live, which careers we pursue, where we invest, and how we vote. Even in its most seemingly frivolous forms, despite its transient and illusory nature, glamour articulates our secret longings and exposes our true characters.

Analyzing icons from Achilles to Angelina Jolie, this is the first book that examines what glamour truly is: not an aesthetic quality or specific style, but a product of our imagination, emerging through the interaction between object and audience. Deconstructing the many iterations of glamour—from travel to battle, aviation to wirelessness, Postrel also illuminates how this pervasive phenomenon works, and in doing so, she empowers us to be smarter about how we engage with the world around us.

Aside from its intellectual content, The Power of Glamour is a beautiful object. It has more than 100 photos and will be printed in four colors on high-quality paper. At 256 pages and dimensions of 9.1 inches x 7.4 inches, it is not a coffee-table book but, rather, a "real" book that is also aesthetically pleasing--perfect for gift giving. (For the paper-averse, however, there is also a Kindle edition.)

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How Convenient Jetways Helped Kill Airline Glamour

Marilyn Monroe disembarking with little cowboy

Contrary to popular belief, the glamour of air travel didn't disappear with the crowded planes brought on by deregulation and cheaper prices. It started dissipating in the late 1960s, with the coming of jumbo jets and terrorist hijackings. “In the popular imagination,” writes architectural historian Alastair Gordon in his excellent book Naked Airport: A Cultural History of the World's Most Revolutionary Structure, “air travel was now equated with boredom and disaster.”

This Weather.com slide show on “Glamour in the Skies” reminded me of another change--this one a technological improvement--that eroded airline glamour around the same time: the disappearance of the staircase in favor of safer, more weatherproof indoor jet bridges.

If you're a traveler, you'd much rather walk directly into the terminal on a more-or-less level jet bridge. But the old stairs set the traveler apart from the crowds on the ground. They created a dramatic sense of arrival and departure. And they made for lots of glamorous photographs.

Nowadays, we still occasionally see such glamorous images of people set apart from the normal life that includes occasional jet travel. Some, like the star of Fergie's "Glamorous" video, are going up and down the steps of private jets. So, in a sense, are the others. But their private jets are publicly owned.

Obama arriving airplane stairs

[Marilyn Monroe and her small "bodyguard" courtesy of Everett Collection and used with permission. We paid to use this photo, so don't you steal it. President Obama arriving in Ankara, Turkey, by Pete Souza and courtesy of White House Flickr stream.]