The Monopolists

  • by Mary Pilon
  • Narrated by Chris Sorensen
  • 7 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The Monopolists 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 30 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 fascinating 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.

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What the Critics Say

"Pilon invests this surprisingly contentious chronicle with a dynamic mix of journalistic knowledge and subtle wit... A fascinating, appealingly written history of an iconic American amusement." (Kirkus Reviews)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Interesting and fun (but BADLY read)

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would probably recommend the book instead of the audiobook. Loved the story but the narrator really made it difficult to listen to.


What was one of the most memorable moments of The Monopolists?

I loved the story of Lizzie McGee and her major contribution to the board game market. She was far ahead of her time--fascinating, smart and interesting. I would have loved to have met her.


Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Chris Sorensen?

Sean Runnette would have been fantastic--he is my favorite. There are many others, too, who would have done a better job.
Sorensen sounds like a robot--he elongates the last word of every sentence.
I have listened to hundreds of audiobooks, and I only listen to nonfiction. I don't want the reader to be dramatic or "act out" the story, but a narrator who gives some character to the story via his or her delivery makes a difference.


Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Maybe, but to read not listen.


Any additional comments?

This really is an interesting story of a beloved board game and its place in history. I was very surprised at how interesting it was, and how much drama surrounded the game in its early days.

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- Kate M.

Newcaster Type Narration of a Fascinating Story

I have spent countless hours playing the game of Monopoly with my children, family and friends and never really knew the story behind the game. Although the history of the game was printed in the games instructions, I never knew that history because the game (as with most players) was taught to me by others who already knew how to play so who had time for instructions?? 😆

The story of Monopoly's origins starts off like a locomotive leaving the station but once it is up to full speed the journey is well worth the trip. It reads/listens like a novel but the narrator was a little dry and a "just the facts" kind of of voice.

I highly recommend this story so at least you know the truth over who really invented it, who stole it and how the game industry really operates.
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- RevInTampa "Pastor Darryl"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-25-2015
  • Publisher: Recorded Books