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THE AMERICAN BANDANA by Hilary Weiss (Chronicle Books: $16.95)

November 18, 1990|Charles Solomon

Most Americans think of the bandana as something stagecoach robbers wear over their faces in "B" Westerns. Hilary Weiss traces the souvenir bandana to the 1770s, when Martha Washington commissioned one bearing an image of George Washington to rally morale during the Revolutionary War. Since then, bandanas have been used to promote an unlikely assortment of people and events, including presidential candidates (from Andrew Jackson to Dwight Eisenhower), cartoon characters (Popeye, Blondie and Little Lulu), movie stars (Fred Astaire, Elvis Presley) and World's Fairs (the Trylon and the Perisphere seem to have been exceptionally popular images). The text in this large format book is minimal and decidedly lightweight, but the photographs will amuse any student of nostalgia and/or pop culture.

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