Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City

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Ebury Press, 2011 - Atlantic City (N.J.) - 284 pages
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Providing the inspiration and source material for the upcoming HBO series produced by Academy Award-winning director Martin Scorsese and Emmy Award-winning screenwriter Terence Winter, this riveting and wide-reaching history explores the sordid past of Atlantic City--forever a freewheeling town long-dedicated to the fast buck--from the city's heyday as a Prohibition-era mecca of lawlessness to its rebirth as a legitimate casino resort in the modern era. A colorful cast of powerful characters, led by "Commodore" Kuehnle and "Nucky" Johnson, populates this stranger-than-fiction account of corrupt politics and the toxic power structure that grew out of guile, finesse, and extortion. Atlantic City's shadowy past--through its rise, fall, and rebirth--is given new light in this revealing, and often appalling, study of legislative abuse and organized crime.

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The book started out well enough, but soon rambled off onto so many tangents that I had a hard time reading it. I never saw the show on TV, so I compared this to other books. A good editor could remove large parts of the narrative, especially parts of the book that didn't support the premise of the story. I didn't need the history of Philadelphia, or the many other tangential data the author worked in.  

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About the author (2011)

Nelson Johnson's family lived in Atlantic County before the city was founded, and he is himself a lifelong resident of Hammonton, New Jersey. He practiced law for 30 years, and was attorney for the Atlantic City Planning Board at the time many applications for the building of the casinos were approved. Fascinated by the complicated history of Atlantic City, Nelson spent almost two decades interviewing, researching and writing to create Boardwalk Empire.

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