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Friday, August 14, 2015

The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the Wold's Favorite Board Game

This was a book that I would have thrown on my TBR pile and then wondered why I didn't pick it up earlier. Thank goodness my book club picked it for the April read, because I didn't miss what I think is one of the most astounding pieces of history I have read as of late. This is Mary Pilon's The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the Wold's Favorite Board Game.

Charles Darrow, broke during the Great Depression, one night had a stroke of genius and created a game for his family to play that harked back to their trips to Atlantic City. He sold it to Parker Brothers, and the rest is history. Or so you think. Mary Pilon's masterpiece turns that old narrative on its head, taking us on a roller coaster ride of economics, feminism, Quakers, and the true history behind the beloved board game of Monopoly.

I absolutely adored every second I spent with this book and I could not recommend it more. (I just got strait to the point there, didn't I?) I absolutely, positively, without a doubt loved the non-fiction narrative of this story. I would have never in my wildest dreams imagined that the Clarence Darrrow story perpetuated on the boxes of the world famous game could have been one of the most elaborate falsehoods in the history of gaming. (I may be exaggerating, but it's how I feel.) Monopoly was in the public domain, and was based off of a game invented by a woman -- Lizzie Magie Phillips. How amazing is that?

This was our book for the MashReads book club a couple of months ago, and it was such an absolute treat to meet Mary and talk to her about this book. First of all, I loved that it read like a narrative and was far from being a dry historical piece. It was interesting, and I cared very much about the characters involved. My question for Mary, though, was whether she set out to write a feminist piece, because even though this was far from being a manifesto, it sure does have a woman at its center, changing history and being a general badass. While I can't remember her answer word for word, I do remember how much she enjoyed Lizzie and researching her.

I could ramble on all day about how much I loved this book and how worth it it is to pick it up and give it a read this summer. Just do it. Then run out and play Monopoly, which is what I am doing with my mom right this second. 

For purchase below. 

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