Before the charismatic John Duval Gluck, Jr., came along, letters from New York City children to Santa Claus were destroyed, unopened, by the US Post Office. Gluck saw an opportunity and created the Santa Claus Association. The effort delighted the public, and for 15 years money and gifts flowed to the only group authorized to answer Santa's mail. Gluck became a Jazz Age celebrity, rubbing shoulders with the era's movie stars and politicians, and even planned to erect a vast Santa Claus monument in the center of Manhattan - until Gotham's crusading charity commissioner discovered some dark secrets in Santa's workshop. The rise and fall of the Santa Claus Association is a caper both heartwarming and hard-boiled, involving stolen art, phony Boy Scouts, a kidnapping, pursuit by the FBI, a Coney Island bullfight, and above all, the thrills and dangers of a wild imagination. It's also the larger story of how Christmas became the extravagant holiday we celebrate today, from Santa's early beginnings in New York to the country's first citywide Christmas tree and Macy's first grand holiday parade.
©2016 Alex Palmer (P)2015 Tantor
"The Santa Claus Man is a warmhearted and informative history, and a luscious tale besides." (Andrew Burstein, author of The Original Knickerbocker)
If you have an interest in American Christmas history at the turn of the century, this book is worth a read. While it focuses on the story of one man there are many details about Christmas culture in general back in that era that are interesting.
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