The Rudolph saga turns out to be more interesting than one might expect-a parable of American commerce cloaked in benevolence. . . . With commendable energy, Mr. Lankford tracks down every Rudolph lead he can find and even resolves conflicting accounts. This can be heavy going for all but the obsessive Rudolphophile. But he also explores the big questions. He shows how the postwar baby boom creates a vast audience for a new children’s character and argues that Rudolph appeals to Americans because the story is actually an inspirational Horatio Alger tale of pluck and luck leading to unlikely success.