The Power of Glamour : Longing and the Art of Visual Persuasion

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Hardcover, Simon & Schuster, 2013, ISBN13 9781416561118, ISBN10 1416561110

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9781416561118 In provocative detail with more than one hundred illustrations, critically acclaimed author Virginia Postrel separates glamour from glitz, revealing what qualities make a person, an object, a setting, or an experience glamorous.

What is it that creates that pleasurable pang of desire—the feeling of “if only”? If only I could wear those clothes, belong to that group, drive that car, live in that house, be (or be with) that person? Postrel identifies the three essential elements in all forms of glamour and explains how they work to create a distinctive sensation of projection and yearning.

The Power of Glamour is the very first book to explain what glamour really is—not just style or a personal quality but a phenomenon that reveals our inner lives and shapes our decisions, large and small. By embodying the promise of a different and better self in different and better circumstances, glamour stokes ambition and nurtures hope, even as it fosters sometimes-dangerous illusions.

From vacation brochures to military recruiting ads, from the Chrysler Building to the iPad, from political utopias to action heroines, Postrel argues that glamour is a seductive cultural force. Its magic stretches beyond the stereotypical spheres of fashion or film, influencing our decisions about what to buy, where to live, which careers to pursue, where to invest, and how to vote.

The result is myth shattering: a revelatory theory that explains how glamour became a powerful form of nonverbal persuasion, one that taps into our most secret dreams and deepest yearnings to influence our everyday choices.


Simon & Schuster
Book Format
Original Languages
Number of Pages
Virginia Postrel
Publication Date
November, 2013
Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H)
9.12 x 7.38 x 0.90 Inches

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I received The Power ...

I received "The Power of Glamour" as part of a Goodreads giveaway.In "The Power of Glamour," Postrel explores visual culture as expressed in (and by) advertising, art, fashion, graphic design, film, status symbols, and celebrities. The presence and development of writing systems are what distinguishes "prehistory" from "history," but Postrel makes a compelling case that what we see--across time and place--can tell us just as much, if not more, than the written record. As a history buff, I loved exploring how conceptions of glamour have changed from premodern religious figures to celebrities from the golden age of cinema to 21st century superstars like Jay-Z.One small quibble is the size of the book--it's a hardcover, but of a non-standard size, almost a small coffee table book, which isn't the most practical format for easy reading. That said, it's still an enjoyable, worthwhile, insightful read, a lot to process in a relatively small package.Recommended.

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