Living in NJ, I found this story particularly interesting because Altantic City has had so many chapters to its history. I even know several surviving Pitneys and the tale they tell of their early ancestor corroborates this account. Mr. Montegna does a wonderful job. I thinking hearing this lays a terrific groundwork for the HBO series I'm looking forward to seeing this Fall.
I've been going to Atlantic City since the early 1960's. I know the place reasonably well for a tourist.
I had little idea of the history of the place, and the role politics played, until listening to this book.
If you like history, and politics, and are curious about Atlantic City, you'll like this book. The real life history of the political bosses that controlled Atlantic City from its founding after the civil war to modern times is better than fiction. The narration is good.
It seems that the author may have fallen in love with his subjects. His admiration for the corrupt political bosses seems a little curious.- although not a reason to not read the book
Since there aren't a lot of other histories of Atlantic City its hard to judge the historical accuracy. Some of the modern history was left out, particularly how Trump had a Wall St. analyst fired (Rothman) for predicting that his casinos were treading on thin ice. Rothman was right, as Trump's subsequent bankruptcy proved. Does he admire Trump a little too much? Trump wasted a ton of money on the Taj Mahal, by insisting on things like genuine imported marble be used in its interior, - for what? - for the scores of poor, recently arrived Russian immigrants who came down from Philly on buses and then ate their brown bagged lunches in Trump's gaudy monument to himself? -
The author's conclusion that the casinos should get together and sponsor air travel, to revitalize the resort, certainly is something that Gov. Christie should consider.
When I was in 4th grade, we had to pass "History of NJ." It was a boring class and one student even asked the teacher why we had to learn it. Our teacher told us we had to pass this course to be promoted to 5th grade. And we had to learn history because it was important to us so we would grow up to be informed and intelligent citizens who could vote responsibly. **sigh** If only that was really true ... However, when I listened to the foreward of this book, I recognized one name -- Hap Farley. I grew up just 10 miles from Atlantic City and my grandfather ran a roofing business there for many years, as well as inland tourist cabins. Just about everything I've heard in this book is new to me. One Canadian reviewer found the book boring and slow. I find it fascinating ...
My only complaint so far (I'm still listening to the first part) is that (as with any audio book) producers and readers need to familiarize themselves with LOCAL pronunciations. For example, Absecon has its accent on the second syllable and the 3rd is pronounced "kin" not "con;" Absegami is Ab-see-gah (as in gash not gosh) -mee; etc.
I recommend the book highly, even if you don't have a connection to southern NJ -- though I think people who are familiar with the locations and people in the "tale" will find it most interesting.
I am an American History sponge, a boomer, and proud American. What is written in this book is not surprising. I grew up in a small town in Illinois and we also had our corruption. The State Trooper taking bribes to not give speeding tickets, the local bookie the county could not seat a jury to try him because everyone knew him, the city council meeting in the mayor's store back room then going to the city hall to vote. In those days as described in this book happened all over America in that time in history and still happens today. Great read, great narrator!
We're "hooked" on the tv series so I had to listen to the book since I was too impatient to wait for the next episode! Turns out the tv version and the book have very little in common, but it's ok - the book was excellent and the tv series is excellent; they're just very different.
I was expecting something quite different but regardless it was engrossing and enjoyable. Narration is outstanding and you won't be disppointed. I look forward to the HBO series.
If your read this book, do not expect it to be anything like the HBO series of the same name. However, you will know way, way more about most of the characters in the HBO show than your friends. Then you can tell them all about who the Commodore was in real life and they can think you are either really smart or a know-it-all.
I grew up in the city in the 60's so I took special pleasure in this historical account. This is a start to present day account of a city with a single goal in mind. Make as much money as you can in ten weeks. How things worked were out in the open and known to all the locals. Payoffs, protection, numbers and vice were part of life and even school children were aware of it. This book deals with the power brokers and politics on top of the whole thing and clarified for me why it all worked as well as it did. I imagine HBO will give us the grit, glamore and stories that were the daily life of the residents and visitors. I loved going up there and to know the whole history give my experience a context. The reader was clear and pace was perfect. I may get a hard copy to do further research. So many names were familiar to me.
A contemporaty history with names and places that are part of my life. Narration was by a favorite reader. What is told of our history then, is3playing out in our Government at all levels today. As the old saying goes, if we do not read and understand history, be are bound to repeat it. Walt Doelp
Mr. Johnson writes with authority about the reasons the city was founded, how those ideals were corrupted and the types of people that drive a city, perhaps any city. I think the book is not so much a cautionary tale as a candid one.
Frank Farley was such a quintessential hypocrite he left me cynical about all politics. The idea that the ice cream and hot dog concessions in one city were controlled by an organization ruled by one man and no one could get ice cream to sell without getting it from him and every scoop sold ALSO put money into his pocket made me wonder about the people selling ice cream around me.
Mantagna was an excellent choice to read this book. His voice is familiar and very pleasant to listen to. He did his research and correctly pronounced the names and locations referred to. While he made the characters distinct he has the wisdom not to over-do it. You can always understand what he's saying. This is a well-written piece of non-fiction. The author injects very few fiction-style dialogues giving an air of serious research to this book. These facts made Mr. Mantagna's job easier as well as giving the reader confidence that this is a well-documented account of history.
There were many moving accounts. Enoch Johnson's prison term, marriage, and long life was very moving at the end of the sequence about him. Farley's final defeat was terrific. The Democratic convention and the disheveled description of the city at that time was very powerful. The people and events that led to the legalization of gambling in the city was fascinating.
This was one of the two or three great pieces of non-fiction I've read this year. It really has very little to do with the TV show (which I think is excellent) that shares the title. I enjoyed this book on an entirely different level than the TV show.