Tuesday, November 3, 2020

The Monopolists

I had no idea behind the origins, evolution, and scandal of this beloved game. It was fascinating to learn more about such a pop culture item. Who doesn't have at least one edition of this board game in their house. I thought the book could have been shortened because the legal aspects towards the end really dragged on - but other than that I really enjoyed getting a behind the scenes look at such an "ordinary" item. When the game was first created at the turn of the twentieth century - the creator called it the landlords game and it came with two sets of rules. On one set of rules the goal was to spread the wealth because only when everyone  has the same opportunities does someone wine. The other set of rules was the monopoly version that we all know and loved. The goal was to make people see how bad monopolies are - winning because one person has accumulated all the wealth shows how vile monopolies are... right? Wrong. The "bad" set of rules became an underground sensation. People were making their own canvas boards and adding their own distinctive names and rules. The set we know and love got all the place names from Atlantic City where is took off. Decades passed and a man named Darrow claimed it was his own and sold it to Parker Brothers where it became an international sensation. Only it clearly wasn't his - having been played in pockets all over the country for three decades. The Monopolists gives the inside scoop on all these incidents and ends with the fight over the Anti-Monopoly game - an attempt to go back to the creator's anti-monopolist roots. Fascinating - but a bit long at parts. 

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