The Monopolists

The Monopolists

Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World's Favorite Board Game

Book - 2015
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"With its origins rooted in one of the Wall Street Journal's most emailed stories, The Monopolists is the inside story of how the game of Monopoly came into existence, the heavy embellishment of its provenance by Parker Brothers and multiple media outlets, the lost female originator of the game, and one man's lifelong obsession to tell the true story about the game's questionable origins. Most Americans who play Monopoly think it was invented by an unemployed Pennsylvania man who sold his game to Parker Brothers in 1935 and lived happily ever after on royalties. That story, however, is not exactly true. Ralph Anspach, an economist and refugee of Hitler's Danzig, unearthed the real story and it traces back to Abraham Lincoln, the Quakers, and to a forgotten feminist named Lizzie Magie. The Monopolists is in part Anspach's David-versus-Goliath tale of his 1970s battle against Parker Brothers, one of the most beloved companies of all time. Anspach was a professor fighting to sell his Anti-Monopoly board game, which hailed those who busted up trusts and monopolies instead of those who took control of all the properties. While he and his lawyers researched previous Parker Brothers lawsuits, he accidentally discovered the true history of the game, which began with Magie's Landlord's Game. That game was invented more than thirty years before Parker Brothers sold their version of Monopoly and she waged her own war with Parker Brothers to be credited as the real originator of the game. More than just a book about board games, The Monopolists illuminates the cutthroat nature of American business over the last century--a social history of American corporate greed that reads like the best detective fiction, told through the real-life winners and losers in the Monopoly wars"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Bloomsbury USA, 2015
ISBN: 1608199630 (hardback)
9781608199631 (hardback)
Branch Call Number: 794 PIL
Characteristics: 313 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm

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6
671books
Jan 07, 2016

This is a very well researched book in to (one of) the world's most popular board games. If you have ever played Monopoly and were curious about the background around the game, then this book is for you.

r
rpavlacic
Dec 13, 2015

The true smoking gun in this book isn't that there is definitive proof the game was invented by Elizabeth Magie and not Charles Darrow. It's that Darrow copied another game that had plagarized the original - and that he copied a blatant mistake: Marvin Gardens is actually spelt Marven. Also gives a history of a group of people who created the game Anti-Monopoly as a response, and the intense legal battle to keep it on the market. Very well researched book by Mary Pilon.

e
eliberg
Sep 08, 2015

The story is full and complete. The presentation of information seems to need cohesion at times leading to difficulty following the story. With that in mind, I read the entire book in one day: 9 a.m. to 4:20, with 30 minutes for lunch.

AbigailCurious Aug 19, 2015

I found it impossible to put down.

ksoles Feb 27, 2015

Despite his claims, Charles Darrow, the man from whom Parker Brothers (now part of Hasbro) acquired Monopoly, trademarking it in 1935, did not actually invent the game. Several people contributed to the inspiration behind it but none had a true "monopoly" on the idea. Rather than rewriting history, as Parker Brothers tried to do before a decade-long court battle with an obstinate economics professor and game inventor in the 1970s, Hasbro now declares 1935 "year zero."

These facts remain wonderfully ironic to former NYT sports reporter Mary Pilon. In her intriguing history, Pilon points out that, not only has Hasbro ended up with a monopoly on the word "Monopoly," but this game, which declares the winner the most successful monopoliser of property, actually sprung from the opposite impulse. Indeed, its precursors built it as a moral story of trustbusting, breaking up abusive giants. The game spread by word of mouth in the early 20th century, with players in social clubs making their own boards out of oilcloth and improvised pieces. Only in the Great Depression, with the marketing clout of Parker Brothers behind it, did it finally explode into a global craze.

One can certainly read the story of Monopoly as a story of inventions: the elements of an idea or a technology circulate broadly in society until one or more inventors find a way to exploit it. Pilon's prodigious research delves into great detail about the intellectual and business roots of Monopoly and, though this contentious history has been told before, Pilon does it adeptly, holding the reader's interest throughout.

This year, Hasbro will release an 80th anniversary edition of “the classic game of Monopoly” with all the original streets and districts from New Jersey’s Atlantic City. “With a retro game board and cards, the game takes you back to where it all began,” it promises. But maybe not exactly.

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eliberg
Sep 08, 2015

eliberg thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 10 and 99

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