We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
 >   > 
Boardwalk Empire Audiobook

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

Regular Price:$22.95
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Audible Editor Reviews

The choice of opening music for this recording of Nelson Johnson’s Boardwalk Empire is telling: though the book charts the rise and fall of Atlantic City from its beginnings as a shyster health resort in the late 19th century through the Donald Trump years to the beginning of the new millennium, the Jazz-age ragtime announces the real crux of this sprawling epic — the age of prohibition, gambling, and mob protection. These transgressive themes are woven throughout the city's history as well as (the author tacitly implies) the recent history of the United States. Johnson shows how Atlantic City was one of the cradles of the American mafia as it served as an entry point to those wanting to get around prohibition (including a young Al Capone), and played host to a cast of Damon Runyon-esque characters.

Overseeing it all was the archetypal character of Enoch "Nucky" Johnson: half politician, half underworld boss, his career "personifies the greed, corruption, and high times that were of Atlantic City in its days of glory". His ties with the Republican Party and invites to the White House are a case study in official corruption, and his personality is nailed down here to memorable effect: he was "a master at holding the hand of a widow and whispering gently what a fine man her husband was".

Many will be drawn to this book on the basis of the Scorsese-produced HBO series, though they should be forewarned that Boardwalk Empire can be exhaustive in its cataloging of each step of the myriad legal processes that variously built up and tore down the antiheroes of Atlantic City; the author was professionally involved for several decades in the city's politics, and it shows on more than one occasion. But luckily for the listener, Joe Mantegna's voice immediately and effortlessly invests each word with sly insinuation and more than a hint of malevolence. He's particularly good at hinting at the self-serving and dishonest motivations behind acts of public munificence, as his voice becomes a knowing wink, a secret handshake turned into sound. His narration makes an offer you can't refuse, and at its considerable best the result is along the lines of Citizen Kane as narrated by The Simpsons’ Fat Tony (another Mantegna performance). —DafyddPhillips

Publisher's Summary

From its inception, Atlantic City has always been a town dedicated to the fast buck, and this wide-reaching history offers a riveting account of its past 100 years, 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 characters, led by Enoch "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.

This audiobook, narrated by Joe Mantegna, is the true story that inspired the upcoming HBO series of the same name. It includes a foreword written and narrated by Terence Winter.

Download the accompanying reference guide.

©2009 Nelson Johnson (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (499 )
5 star
 (130)
4 star
 (164)
3 star
 (134)
2 star
 (46)
1 star
 (25)
Overall
3.8 (276 )
5 star
 (89)
4 star
 (91)
3 star
 (67)
2 star
 (20)
1 star
 (9)
Story
4.0 (270 )
5 star
 (96)
4 star
 (104)
3 star
 (47)
2 star
 (18)
1 star
 (5)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Kristi Richardson Milwaukie, OR, United States 05-25-14
    Kristi Richardson Milwaukie, OR, United States 05-25-14

    An old broad that enjoys books of all types. Would rather read than write reviews though. I know what I like, and won't be bothered by crap.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    904
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    247
    230
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    87
    88
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "More than Nucky Thompson!"

    I really enjoyed this history of Atlantic City on which parts of the HBO show is based. The early years of getting a city built were quite interesting and the fact that the city was never an uncorrupted town. It was so out of the way that the only way to get everyday people to come was to have 4 different railroads and gambling and entertainment.

    The locals determined that these hardworking people wanted to let loose and they decided to look the other way so they would come back. Prostitution was accepted and booze (when it was illegal) and gambling were tolerated. It was a wild town especially in Enoch Johnson's day. HBO calls him Nucky Thompson but they are the same.

    My favorite parts of the book were the parts about the blacks and religion. It's always a good reminder.

    The later parts of the book are not as appealing. Who cares how The Donald arrived in Atlantic City? The machinations of getting gambling legalized was enthralling.

    The narrator was very good.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Val 08-22-12
    Val 08-22-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    13
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Who's who in the city"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Flavius Morro Bay, CA, United States 11-26-11
    Flavius Morro Bay, CA, United States 11-26-11 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    408
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    366
    150
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    36
    15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Solid and Entertaining"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Moire Linden, VA, United States 11-23-11
    Moire Linden, VA, United States 11-23-11 Member Since 2002

    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.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    141
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    201
    53
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Well told history of Atlantic City"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wallen Danderyd, Sweden 09-11-11
    Wallen Danderyd, Sweden 09-11-11 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    240
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    104
    57
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    8
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Republicans and gangsters"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    L. Norton The Woodlands TX 03-31-11
    L. Norton The Woodlands TX 03-31-11 Member Since 2016

    AAPLfan

    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    53
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Glad I stuck with it"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tundrabeast Grand Forks, ND United States 09-10-10
    Tundrabeast Grand Forks, ND United States 09-10-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    129
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    70
    63
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    6
    0
    Overall
    "Well Written...But"

    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....

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hunter heber, UT, United States 02-05-11
    Hunter heber, UT, United States 02-05-11 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    74
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    100
    75
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    3
    0
    Overall
    "Not bad"

    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

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Avi 07-16-15
    Avi 07-16-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    36
    8
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Interesting history of AC / southern NJ politics"

    As an NJ resident who considers NJ the 50th of the 50 states, it was enlightening to learn some history of the 20th century NJ politics. Home rule enables NJ to remain the crony capital of the USA.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    john memphis, TN, United States 05-06-15
    john memphis, TN, United States 05-06-15 Member Since 2008

    seeker

    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    7
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Truth is stranger than fiction."
    What did you love best about Boardwalk Empire?

    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.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    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.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    This is a nonfiction book and doesn't really have"scenes.'


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Boardwalk Empire - The Real Story.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.