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
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Earphones Award Winner (AudioFile Magazine)
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.
©2009 Nelson Johnson (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
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Critic reviews

"Joe Mantegna's steady, unaffected reading of Johnson's history of Atlantic City is a model of good audiobook narration. Mantegna seems the perfect choice for this title, a solid professional whose voice is tuned to both the drama of individual moments and the rising and falling arcs of the narrative as a whole." (AudioFile)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Mikey on 10-08-14

Note: This is NOT a fictional novel!

Any additional comments?

Having read some previous reviews for this audiobook, I saw that some people had bought this thinking it was the original story book for the HBO TV series, and I think they expected a novel that was more of a fictional storybook. Although it is not a fictional story, if you are a fan of the BE series or if you are interested in the roaring 1920s era, I would still recommend that you try this book. In fact, even if you are not particularly interested in this era, I think it is definitely worth giving this book a listen!

I was hooked from the start, the author did his homework and I would definitely recommend this to my friends; of all ages and interests.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Amazon Customer on 13-05-17

A must listen for any aspiring politician

A really interesting and impressively researched history of a modern American town. The breadth and depth of analysis is told in a very accessible way, bringing the listener right through the history of Atlantic City.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Frances on 12-08-10

I love stories steeped in History

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.

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18 of 18 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Steven on 07-08-10

The Unmasked History of Atlantic City

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.

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33 of 35 people found this review helpful

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