Atlantic City, perhaps more than most others, seems to have little history other than its politicians. Boardwalk Empire is well-researched and well-presented, but is far less the history of a city than of the politicians in charge of it.
Slightly disappointing, though not the fault of the author or narrators.
I had no acquaintance with the HBO series (other than wanting to see it) and virtually no knowledge of Atlantic City's history prior to the 1980s, and that only superficial. For this reason I went into 'Boardwalk Empire' with somewhat unrealistic expectations. I assumed that since this book purported to feature the mob in a large role (which it does), the book's pages would be littered with the bodies of snitches, gangsters and hard-luck losers. This is not the case, as virtually all of BE's characters die of natural causes.
Having said that, BE was a rewarding read despite my shattered expectations. The book is replete with stories of crime, graft and corruption, which makes for exciting reading. Some of the earlier, pre-crime chapters are a little slow, but the book soon shifts into full gear all the way up to the ill-advised afterword, which seems unnecessary. Moreover, the use of a different narrator for the afterword (although I enjoy T. Winter's work) is jarring.
Joe Mantegna is the highlight of the work. His heavily-inflected, but precise diction is a treat.
Life long fan of the mystery story. I like books where something actually happens, so history and biography are favorites of mine also. I also think that even good books are improved tremendously when an actor performs the narration.
This is a history of Atlantic City, from it's beginnings at a mosquito filled wetland to the glitter of the Trump Tower. It's just the facts with no romance or cliffhanger endings -- and it's a very good history. It's clear why HBO opted to serialize and fictionalize the life of Nucky Johnson -- its an amazing story and I think the most interesting part of the book, but don't give THE DONALD a short shrift. Before he was a joke with bad hair, he was an egomaniacal businessman and he turned AC around. Well narrated by Joe Mantegna, it's a very interesting slice of American History.
The most revealing and interesting part about this book is how the Republican party supported and encouraged organized crime in Atlantic City. The ties between republicans and gangsters gave rise to this city of bars, casinos and brothels. But as it is said in the books: "People want bars, casinos and brothels, so we give it to them. If they had wanted bible studies, we'd had given them bible studies".
The story is interesting, if a little too exhaustive with too many details about what happended several generations ago. But still worth listening to. Well read as well.
At half way through Boardwalk Empire I thought the author was getting too redundant about what it took to be an Enoch Johnson - favors, power, votes; but I stuck with the book and the second half was excellent. From Steven Wynn and Donald Trump to suggestions about what's wrong with AC and how to fix it were all entertaining and informative.
I too purchased this thinking it would have the excitement as the previews for the upcoming series show. This isn't that kind of book. It is very interesting and really gives a great historic account of Alantic City, but it isn't the fast action you might be expecting from the series with the same name. It is however a really well written account if you're interested in the real history of the area. I've never been there, but I think I'd be familiar with a lot of it if I did decide to go there. I was a bit disappointed because of my expectations, but I can't say there's anything wrong with this book....
I can't remember if I actually finished this one or not - I might have lost interest after 2/3 of the book or so. Interesting diversion from my usual type of books (fiction). Wouldn't call it great, but not bad either
My wife and I bought this book because we were big fans of the HBO series. We enjoyed hearing the true story which inspired the series.
The real Nucky Johnson was even more powerful and organized than the fictional "Nucky Thompson" played by Steve Buscemi in the series. It was interesting to contrast the entire life story of Nucky Johnson with that of the fictional character.
This is a nonfiction book and doesn't really have"scenes.'
Boardwalk Empire - The Real Story.
This book covers a much longer period than the HBO series. Its epilogue ends in 2010, I think. Some of the history of the Farley machine era, which followed Nucky Johnson's time in power, was detailed and a little bit tedious. My wife dropped out during this period, but I continued. I was impressed by the extent of the decline of Atlantic City after Prohibition was repealed, and its revival through legalized gambling, with a whole new set of problems and opportunities.
I should add that I think Joe Mantegna was the perfect narrator for this book.
The narrators are excellent. I never felt bored or turned off by their voices. The narrations were so enjoyable that I was sorry when the book ended.
None come to mind. This is a unique, stand alone story.
The narration is even paced but never dull. Joe Mantegna's appreciation for the material is evident in his voice throughout. As I listened, I felt like he and I had gotten together for coffee so that he could tell me this fascinating tale. He is a relaxed yet actively interested narrator.
This is a recounting of the long history of Atlantic City, starting from before its existence began. It has plenty of personal descriptions which are well done, but is not a book full of moving moments.
I knew next to nothing about Atlantic City except that it had fallen on hard times and was somewhat revived in recent decades by the establishment of casinos. My parents' honeymoon took place in Atlantic City in 1951--in early February! I don't know what they were thinking, honeymooning at the Jersey shore mid-winter. The weather that week turned into one big snowstorm. I have a photo of my mother standing on the pier, clutching her winter coat to her neck, trying to smile for the camera in spite of the blasts of snow pelting her face. With few options for outdoor activities in that climate, I suppose it can't be a surprise that I was born exactly nine months later. Personal history aside, I wanted to know how the city was born and what had transpired there between its early days and present time. Boardwalk Empire does the job and then some! I loved this book and all the characters in it. The TV series portrays just one segment of Atlantic City's long and colorful history. Besides the focus on the city itself, the author does an excellent job of linking various phases of the city's development to the larger picture, the historical events happening concurrently in the country and the world. I learned more about the treatment of African-Americans post Civil War from this book than I had previously from any other source. That information and all the other details in this book were presented in a concise and compassionate form. Nelson Johnson is not only a good author, he is a thorough researcher. I highly recommend Boardwalk Empire.
There's only one thing to say about the narrator...it's Joe Montenga, so it's perfect.
I did have a bait-and-switch feeling about the buy. The book is hyper-connected to the HBO series. Audible offered a 30 minute teaser that even started with a component of the HBO series. That's it. That's all. About one chapter of story and the rest is non-fiction narration.
For me, the appeal is that my family is from Philadelphia, and during any vacation from our Midwest home to the relatives in Philly included a day-jaunt to Atlantic City. I love Monopoly, so nothing more need be said about the connection to Atlantic City.
I found the book interesting and the history of the resort fascinating. But I could push pause and walk away for hours, even days. Try doing that with a Spencer novel Montenga narrates.
Just know going in, you will learn everything you never realized about Atlantic City, but you're not going to find out whether Nochy Thompson (Johnson) marries Mrs. Schroeder and adopts the two kids. You're not even going to hear about a weird federal agent trying to bring him down.
The television series portrays the characters well from the book's real life. The book is not a novel.
It's well written, thorough, documented, and interesting listening. The last chapter is a bit of a lecture to the folks living in Atlantic City today that's a little smarmy.
I kept it, and might even listen again some day, but not before I re-listen to the Spencer series Montenga narrates. I think I hear "Potshot" calling.