Hugh Hefner's Playboy: 1953-1979


<p>Taschen publishes Hugh Hefner's illustrated autobiography.</p>

We’re can’t pretend to be objective reviewers with regard to Taschen’s newly minted publication that is Hugh Hefner’s Playboy: 1953-1979. The 3,506-page, six-volume definitive “illustrated autobiography,” published right on time to celebrate Playboy’s 60th anniversary, culls as much from Hefner’s infamous collection of scrapbooks as it does from private snapshots, magazine centerfolds and even from Hef’s own comic strip, together tracing the ultimate playboy’s journey from precocious kid to editor, entrepreneur and babe magnate.

“You can’t really start a magazine on no money, but I did,” Hefner writes in his introduction. “The response was immediate and I received orders for 70,000 copies from newsdealers across the country. All I had to do now was create the magazine.”

Create a magazine he certainly did. And more. Hef built an international media empire out of Playboy.

Hugh Hefner’s Playboy is pretty, it’s glossy and the entire collection’s probably in spiffier shape than any of the Playboys stashed around either your or your dad’s bachelor pads, which should certainly be an incentive to own the collection. But that’s not the only reason you need this most ultimate of Playboy memorabilia.

Taschen’s Hugh Hefner’s Playboy is a touchstone of our time. Spanning Playboy’s postwar pinup heyday all the way into civil rights debates, outlining anticensorship battles, bush wars (no, we don’t mean the father-son politico duo) and the very height of disco glam, together the books imbue a real sense of the beautiful, provocative and central role Playboy has played in popular culture, in politics, in the arts and in our collective imaginations.

And, after all, what better way to mark the passing years than with a month-by-month cache of groundbreaking articles, fascinating interviews, awesome fiction and, yes, a rotating score of gorgeous Playmates, Bunnies, Girlfriends and their twins, sisters and cuddle-buddies cavorting in or out of costume and otherwise behaving in a sexually liberated mien?

Iconic highlights include a conversation with Jimmy Carter about drugs, adultery, abortion, homosexuality and civil rights; gorgeous nude photographs of the ever-ephemeral Jane Birkin; and such mementos as a signed picture from Mansion houseguest Linda Lovelace that reads, “To Huge Hefner What else can I say (gulp!!!) I love it. Love & Kisses, Linda Lovelace.”

But it’s not all Mansion grottoes and slumber parties (though of course these are thoroughly documented). Excerpts in the collection read like a university modern literature survey course. Playboy’s literary cred was, after all, built on featuring such authors as Vladimir Nabokov, James Baldwin, Ursula K. Le Guin, Ray Bradbury, Norman Mailer, P.G. Wodehouse, Arthur C. Clarke, Tennessee Williams, Robert Graves, John Irving, Sean O’Faolain … and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to name but a few.

So you can read Hugh Hefner’s Playboy for the articles.

Get it HERE.


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