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In Boardwalk Empire Atlantic City springs to life in all its garish splendor Author Nelson Johnson. No this isn t a pot boiler full of sex violence and perfect looking people That s the highly entertaining fiction based on fact TV series and this is not the novelization of that showWhat this is is the whole history of Atlantic City from its founding as a health resort its success mainly as a resort for working class folk from Philadelphia its golden age under Nucky Johnson NOT Thompson its post prohibition fall that continued for decades and its rebirth as a casino resort townWhat is especially interesting is the chapter on Atlantic City s African American community Nearly the entire work staff of the town was black and lived under conditions that differed little from the plantations of the the pre Civil War South It s a sad and remarkable storyJohnson knows his subject and tells his story with far skill than most historians do if you read adult history books you ll know what I mean And I skimmed a great deal of the latter half of this book especially everything involving that nasty bastard Donald Trump where the narrative lags But if the TV series has piued your curiosity about Atlantic City this is worth looking into

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Boardwalk Empire

Traces AC from its birth as a uiet seaside health resort through the notorious backroom politics an. This is the book the HBO series used for its basis Contrary to popular myth Atlantic City was not a summer playground for the rich but rather a working class getaway that catered to every illicit whim Brothels and gambling flourished but Prohibition really made Atlantic City famous and rich Under Nucky Johnson the Commodore s successor anything nominally illegal elsewhere could be had in Atlantic City A naughty time at an affordable price The short history of Atlantic City presented at the beginning of the book is really uite interesting The land was bought up originally to develop a health spa but then in order to make it accessible a railroad was reuired to get people from New York and Philadelphia But in order to compete with Cape May summer playground of the rich they tried to appeal to the working man so prices had to remain low Soon there were four railroads delivering customers in spite of swarms of green flies and mosuitoes that sometimes drove horses crazy not to mention people To serve customers cheaply labor costs had to be kept low and poor southern blacks who had suffered as slaves and were then abused after Reconstruction was destroyed politically migrated to Atlantic City to fill the jobs Whites wanted nothing to do with them socially and soon the city was segregated into white and black ghettos The irony of it all was cruel to Blacks They earned a respectable wage could vote and own property They performed the most personal of services and were entrusted with important responsibilities but they were barred from restaurants amusement piers and booths were denied shopping privileges by most stores were admitted to hotels only as workers were segregated in clinics and hospitals and could only bathe in one section of the beach but even then had to wait until after darkLouis Kuehnle otherwise known as the Commodore was soon running the town but in a wise if corrupt manner He focused on infrastructure building water and transportation systems that functioned well and paving the streets Commodore understood that Atlantic City s business owners would gladly sacrifice honest government for a profitable summer and he gave them what they wanted Kuehnle protected the rackets from prosecution and worked with the tourist industry to ensure its success In exchange the community let him call the shots Unfortunately following the election of Woodrow Wilson the Presbyterian antithesis to anything fun and later president to the NJ governorship cramped things Wilson was a crusader who saw things in black and white Impersonal in his relations he attracted supporters in much the same way people latch on to an abstract principle His attorney general went after election fraud and that resulted in Kuehnle s imprisonment opening the way for Nucky Johnson who was far corrupt and even controlling Johnson got himself appointed City Treasurer a non elective office which he held for decades and which held the key to all graft The 18th amendment played right into the hands of Nucky and all during Prohibition booze flowed freely and openly as Atlantic City became a huge transit port for liuorJohnson had a gift for understanding people their desires and needs He managed to control the city to such an extent that virtually everyone owed their jobs to him Crucial to his power and the control of the Republican organization he learned how to manipulate Atlantic City s Black population He continued the Commodore s private welfare system but the assistance he gave Johnson went beyond what Kuehnle had done for blacks come the winter he was their savior Long stretches of unemployment in the off season could be devastating Johnson saw to it that the Northside had food clothing coal and medical care If your kid needed a winter coat all you had to do was ask maybe it wouldn t fit but it was warm If the grocer cut off your credit the ward leader told you where to shop on the party s tab The same was true if someone needed a doctor or a prescription filled Corruption as good government

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D power struggles to the city's rebirth as an entertainment and gambling mecca where anything goes.. Atlantic City has uite a history from the rocky beginnings to its colourful characters like Louis Commodore Kuehnle and Enoch Nucky Johnson Boardwalk Empire by Nelson Johnson subtitle The Birth High Times and Corruption of Atlantic City tells the history of this US city While this book inspired the current HBO series of the same name this is not a reason to read this The HBO show tells the story of a fictional character based on Nucky Johnson called Nucky Thompson in the show If you were to base a show on this non fiction book it would turn out like House of CardsThere was a big chapter of Boardwalk Empire devoted to Nucky Johnson who was an interesting guy If you know the plot of the HBO series you might be aware of the type of character Nucky was despite being only loosely based on him His rise to power came thanks to the Volstead Act but he wasn t just a mob boss he was a political powerhouse Corruption never seemed so complex and scary using the Republican Party to control the city all the while using extortion to fund the party This techniue helped control Atlantic City keeping it corrupt well into the modern eraWhile the history of Atlantic City is fascinating it is sad to see just how big of an impact organised crime had on a growing city I have an interest in the Volstead Act and how prohibition helped organised crime get a foothold in America Boardwalk Empire shed some interesting insights into the cultural impact it had on a large scaleI have started a new phase in my reading life where I ve become very interested in non fiction While Boardwalk Empire wasn t the greatest book there was a lot to learn about politics and organised crime This period of time interests me and I plan to read a whole lot reading on the Volstead Act and organised crime so I need recommendations If you know good non fiction books on these topics let me knowThis review originally appeared on my blog


10 thoughts on “Boardwalk Empire

  1. says:

    I've been watching the HBO TV series Boardwalk Empire since the COVID 19 closure of my university and this book which the show was supposedly based upon seemed like an interesting companion Boardwalk Empire as a book has very little in common with the TV series but it's still definitely a book I enjoyed and it's very well researched Chronicling the dark political underworld of Atlantic City but also the area

  2. says:

    If fans of the HBO series Boardwalk Empire read this hoping just for stories about corrupt politicians gangsters bootlegging sex violence and a disfigured hit man they’re probably going to be disappointed However anyone looking for an interesting history of Atlantic City from its humble beginnings of a second rate resort town through it’s glory days of as a popular destination point during Prohibition be

  3. says:

    No this isn't a pot boiler full of sex violence and perfect looking people That's the highly entertaining fiction based on fact TV series and t

  4. says:

    This is the book the HBO series used for its basis Contrary to popular myth Atlantic City was not a summer playground for the rich but rather a working class getaway that catered to every illicit whim Brothels and gambling flourished but Prohibition really made Atlantic City famous and rich Under “Nucky” Johnson the

  5. says:

    Bound City of SwingSunPost Weekly September 16 2010 | John Hoodhttpbitly90vmwPGetting with the Book behind Boardwalk EmpireThe 500 Club Paradise Café Club Harlem Little Belmont The Bath and Turf Club the Cliuot Club just saying names of these

  6. says:

    If you are planning to read this book for supplemental background for the HBO show don't bother This book is of a concise history of the city t

  7. says:

    Boardwalk Empire is an interesting and enjoyable if rather uneven read Victims of this most recent recession economy will undoubtedly be interested to know that Atlantic City’s initial development and success was brought on not by the nation’s wealthiest vacations but rather by blue collar workers and wage earners eager for a weekend getaway they could afford The resort’s uniue and complicated relationsh

  8. says:

    Atlantic City has uite a history from the rocky beginnings to its colourful characters like Louis “Commodore” Kuehnle and Enoch “Nucky” Johnson Boardwalk Empire by Nelson Johnson subtitle The Birth High Ti

  9. says:

    I'm sure that readers of in depth detailed political history will find this book fascinating from cover to cover Because I am not uite the in depth political history scholar I didn't find the entire book so much fascinating as I found it to be long windedThat said there were in depth parts of the book I did like These were the parts that focused on the characters I was familiar with as a fan of the HBO series Boardwalk Empire It was interes

  10. says:

    The first half of this book is great The history of Atlantic city from its start through prohibition is fascinating and well told After that the book gets bogged down in repetitive statements and reads like a time