Sunday, July 9, 2017

Books I'm Reading: Pan Am: History, Design & Identity

I bought Pan Am: History, Design & Identity (Callisto, 2016) on impulse because it appeared to present the entire history of Pan Am's branding in photographs of the company's aircraft, destinations, hotels, and personnel at work as well as in reproductions of posters and other ephemera the company used—hundreds of posters, luggage labels, brochures, and other promotional material. But the book turned out to be much more. I hadn't really expected a lot of text, but, in addition to a remarkable collection of images, author M. C. Hühne presents a succinct yet thorough history of Pan Am's origins, it's development into probably the most influential airline in the world, and then its slow decline and failure. Along the way, we get an insightful portrait of Pan Am's visionary leader, Juan Trippe, and a look at some of the people he worked with, including Charles Lindbergh. The illustrations are beautifully printed on heavy, coated paper, which makes the book feel like a brick, but it's a brick that's very pleasurable to peruse. Owning it is an indulgence, but it's the kind of book that will reward repeated visits—in the end, a worthwhile investment.

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