Book Review- The Monopolists

The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World’s Favorite Board Game
by Mary Pilon, 2015

the monopolists

I don’t know any Americans that have not played Monopoly. Either you love it or you are wrong. I’ve covered some of the strategy before; I try hard to win when I play. This interesting book describes Monopoly’s backstory, which differs from Parker Brothers’ traditional tale. Various incarnations of the game existed for 30 years before Parker Brothers bought the rights, and the “inventor” of Monopoly, Charles Darrow, blatantly copied it from a friend. It originated as an anti-capitalist game called the Landlord’s Game. The book ends up focusing upon the legal drama of the board game Anti-Monopoly, which Parker Brothers sued for trademark infringement. After 10 years, Anti-Monopoly won the case on appeal, partially due to the reveal during the court proceedings of long-hidden history of the game. We bought a copy of the Anti-Monopoly game during our travels a year ago; you won’t see it in many game stores because Hasbro (which now owns Parker Brothers (and Milton Bradley)) has agreements with most stores to keep out the upstart. You can play Anti-Monopoly as a Monopolist (similar rules to Monopoly) or a Free-Marketer (where you charge more reasonable rents regardless of how many properties you own of a specific color).

If you like Monopoly, here are a few tangential games to try out:
Advance to Boardwalk
Monopoly Deal Card Game
Stock Exchange Add-On to Monopoly

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