Mary PilonMay 17, 2021
Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World's Favorite Board Game
Bloomsbury Publishing USA 2015
The inside story of the world's most famous board game-a buried piece of American history with an epic scandal that continues today.
The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World's Favorite Board Game (Bloomsbury, 2015) reveals the unknown story of how Monopoly came into existence, the reinvention of its history 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 think it was invented by an unemployed Pennsylvanian who sold his game to Parker Brothers during the Great Depression in 1935 and lived happily--and richly--ever after. That story, however, is not exactly true. Ralph Anspach, a professor fighting to sell his Anti-Monopoly board game decades later, unearthed the real story, which traces back to Abraham Lincoln, the Quakers, and a forgotten feminist named Lizzie Magie who invented her nearly identical Landlord's Game more than thirty years before Parker Brothers sold their version of Monopoly. Her game--underpinned by morals that were the exact opposite of what Monopoly represents today--was embraced by a constellation of left-wingers from the Progressive Era through the Great Depression, including members of Franklin Roosevelt's famed Brain Trust.
A gripping social history of corporate greed that illuminates the cutthroat nature of American business over the last century, The Monopolists reads like the best detective fiction, told through Monopoly's real-life winners and losers.
Mary Pilon is a journalist, screenwriter, and author of the bestselling books "The Monopolists" and "The Kevin Show" as well as co-host and co-author of “Twisted: The Story of Larry Nassar and the Women Who Brought Him Down.” Her work regularly appears in the New Yorker, Esquire, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Vice, New York, and The New York Times, among other publications.
Dr. Lee Pierce (they & she) is Assistant Professor of Rhetorical Communication at State University of New York at Geneseo and host of the podcast RhetoricLee Speaking. Connect with Lee on Gmail and social media @rhetoriclee.