Must See TV # 1 Boardwalk Empire

“In less than two hours, liquor will be declared illegal by decree of the distinguished gentlemen of our nation’s Congress. To those beautiful, ignorant bastards.” This deliciously cynical toast from Nucky Thompson is how this marvellous series begins. I am currently reading Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times And Corruption of Atlantic City. This book, written by Nelson Johnson, was the inspiration for the HBO series.  “Nucky” Thompson is based on the real life Enoch Lewis “Nucky” Johnson, an Atlantic City, political boss and racketeer. From the 1910s to when he was sent to jail in 1941, he was the undisputed “boss” of the political machine that controlled Atlantic City. During Prohibition Atlantic City became a refuge for thirsty Americans. Johnson was able to satisfy their wants. Bootlegging, gambling and prostitution were all organised by Johnson and his cohorts. Incidentally Louis Malle’s wonderful Atlantic City, which I must have seen more than 30 years ago, an aging gangster, Lou, played by Burt Lancaster, mentions an incident involving “Nucky” Johnson. Anyway, if you haven’t seen it already, why don’t you take a trip in the time machine back to Atlantic City in the Roaring Twenties.

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