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Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City | [Nelson Johnson]

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

From its inception, Atlantic City has always been a town dedicated to the fast buck, and this wide-reachinghistory offers a riveting account of its past 100 year, from the city's heyday as a Prohibition-era mecca of lawlessness to its rebirth as a legitimate casino resort in the modern era.
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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

3.6 (407 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Anthony S. McComas Newton, MA, United States 01-23-13
    Anthony S. McComas Newton, MA, United States 01-23-13 Listener Since 2010

    Captain Nemo

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    ""Fat Tony" narrates the history of the mob in NJ!"

    Joe Mantegna does an amazing job of narrating a very well written book about the history of the Mob in Atlantic City. This book takes you through the more seedy side of Atlantic City's history. The author really did his research and the book keeps you entertained and informed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Angelo Torquati luxemburg 06-19-12
    Angelo Torquati luxemburg 06-19-12 Listener Since 2004
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    4
    1
    Overall
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    Story
    "A good and thorough storybook"

    A good and thorough storybook that should be found in every NJ middle school library. Listening to this book, I learned a lot, that I didn't know before. Nevertheless, the book is a far cry from the HBO series. Many listeners will feel disappointed by the absolute lack of action scenes. Thanks to Joe Mantegna, the whole thing is somewhat salvaged from boredom.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura Wilmington, NC, United States 12-08-11
    Laura Wilmington, NC, United States 12-08-11 Member Since 2009
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    1
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    "Well done tale of a fascinating place..."

    Few places have such unusual stories as the founding and growth of Atlantic City. And this author serves it well, telling that story in fast-paced, clear prose. The narrator adds to the clarity with a well-done reading. If you have any interest in American urban history, listen to this whether you've seen the prohibition-era chapters dramatized in the HBO series or not.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pete Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 08-06-10
    Pete Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 08-06-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    21
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    "Disappointing"

    I bought this one after seeing the HBO ads. Reads more like a history paper than a novel. It makes for great research but a poor tale if you're looking to be entertained. The only saving grace is Montegna's skill as a narrator. Don't waste your monthly credit on this book.

    21 of 46 people found this review helpful
  •  
    james United States 11-26-11
    james United States 11-26-11 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Sychophantic apologia for New Jersey politics,"

    Don't get this book hoping for some of Nucky Thompson a la Steve Buscemi. Sure, a good part of the book is about this era and those bracketing it, but the rest of the book, and its a lot, concerns New Jersey and particularly Atlantic County politics. If someone told me the chairman of the Republican party of NJ had commissioned this book I'd believe it.
    Towards the end the justifications and obsequiousness becomes really noticeable.
    In my opinion the bad parts did not make up for the good and time would be better spent on something else. I ditched the book with 10 minutes to go, just could not listen anymore.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    N. V. Anden CT River Valley 10-10-10
    N. V. Anden CT River Valley 10-10-10 Member Since 2000

    Iconoclast

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "How I finally learned to sample before buying"

    An outline of the effect of polical machines on American cities Atlantic City in particular, from the Civil War to present times. Atlantic City is an excellent case study since the original Sin City was created on a desolate barrier island off the coast of New Jersey starting in the 1870s. Amidst some historical details, the author indulges in several treatises about american life: vice, corruption, political machines' exploitation of minorities and the working class, etc...
    The only connection between this book and the HBO series of the same title is just that. This book's thin outline is the frail structure on which HBO drapes imagined events and characters. By itself the book might be interesting but it is undermined by an atrocious reading. They apparently recorded the narrator's first encounter with the book and the misplaced emphasis, swallowed words and general sense of confusion are blatant. The producer and director have failed the listener. Listen to the sample.

    3 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Louis A. Ferendo NJ, USA 04-08-14
    Louis A. Ferendo NJ, USA 04-08-14

    Professor Lou

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    "Too Llong"
    Would you listen to Boardwalk Empire again? Why?

    Perhaps ,I might have read the second half, but I can’t say since I became bored to death by the first three hours of the reading; a precise History of Southern NJ railroad system as related to Transportation to Atlantic City. Joe Montagne is a great reader/narrator but nevertheless I had to put the book down. Wish I had returned it back then but I wasn’t aware of that option. When Working with Audio books it is difficult to jump ahead (or back) to a set point in the book.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    Again, I can’t say because I never finished the book. I can say It is too long for my reading temperament.


    Did Joe Mantegna and Terence Winter (foreword) do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

    They are both excellent readers


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

    Again, I can’t say because I never finished the book. I can't really comment


    Any additional comments?


    sorry, NO.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M Dover, DE, United States 12-05-10
    M Dover, DE, United States 12-05-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Watch the Series"

    I could not finish this book. Joe Mantegna is a great actor but he reads this in a mono tone- like manner. It's not a droning narration but Mr Mantegna keeps the exact same level of intensity in his voice reading every line of this book. At first I thought "great, It's Joe Mantegna reading this". As the book progressed I just couldn't stand it anymore. It's very detailed as to the beginnings of Atlantic City, non of which the series conveys, but I kept waiting to get that lift, that pull into the story but the narration is like a wall keeping me out. I think it coulda been a champ but no. Maybe it's me.

    0 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amy Saint Paul, MN, United States 11-30-10
    Amy Saint Paul, MN, United States 11-30-10
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    9
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    "O.K. history lesson"

    I was expecting more of a story. It was definately more of a history lesson.

    0 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mitchell Carbondale, IL, United States 11-09-10
    Mitchell Carbondale, IL, United States 11-09-10 Member Since 2010
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    "Boardwalk Empire:TheBirthHighTimesandCorruption"

    Should have read the reviews. PETE from Canada nailed it. Complete waste of your monthly credit for this book.

    0 of 4 people found this review helpful
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