This book came in through Amazon Prime just this morning, and it's everything that style blogs have hyped it up to be. It was first popularized by M. Williams of A Continuous Lean, and when he scanned photos from his original 1965 edition, the books were going on eBay for as high as $500. At $14, it's a steal.
A small hardcover with glossy pages, the volume clocks in at around half an inch. Underneath the dust jacket is a gorgeous orange cloth-covered book embossed with seals of the eight Ivy League institutions. The preface introduces the modern edition (in English, of course) and references the original Japanese volume. In an effort to maintain authenticity, "The translation of the original text for this English-language edition has not been edited for the purpose of updating or revising facts, names, or other matters." (This note seems irrelevant until we get to discussions about student body size and other time-sensitive statistics.)
The book's pictures are of young men in varying degrees of prep -- lots of anoraks, varsity jackets, boat shoes, khakis, polos, slim ties, plaid shorts, etc. (There are maybe four women in the entire book.) Almost all of them are trim in physique and their clothing trim in cut. Given our society's Mad Men obsession and fashion's general return to 'Americana,' the book's reemergence is a reflection of cultural zeitgeist.
The one flaw is the captions, which seem to over-explain. For instance, we have on p. 68, "A student is taking a stroll on a rainy campus wearing a sweatshirt which, of course, is in the school color. Ivy Leaguers are known for displaying their loyalty and pride in their alma mater on a daily basis." These words are accompanied by a picture of a young man walking in the rain while wearing a Brown sweatshirt. I suppose they make much more sense in light of the original publication in Japan.
My favorite section is entitled "Take Ivy" (it follows "College Life," "College Fashion," and "Elements of 'Ivy'"). Here the authors discuss each of the eight universities and give a few facts about each. It then goes on to explore the presumed psyche of Ivy Leaguers with sub-headings like "Study hard..." and "Play hard..." and "Sound body" and "Sound mind." Placed on equal footing is a section devoted to JFK, who in 1965 must have embodied the Ivy League for the rest of the world.
I'm running out of summarizing steam, but there are more pages devoted to vehicles (classic cars, sports cars, bikes, and old bikes), boyfriends and girlfriends, professors and madras checks. There is another on "barefoot and its rationality," in which the Japanese author is perplexed that a young man had cut off his sweatshirt sleeves with a pair of scissors.
All in all, a great dose of nostalgia. Pleased that there isn't a single pair of flip flops in the entire book.