Monopoly Review
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It’s no surprise that Monopoly is the best-selling board game in the world. But did you know that its 1903 predecessor, The Landlord’s Game, was intended to promote the idea of anti-monopolies and a single tax on property?

Monopoly enthusiast Philip E. Orbanes, who also served as Sr. Vice President of Research and Development of Parker Brothers, details the history of Monopoly from pre-inception to present. He explains how the politics of the day, along with historical events of the 20th century, affected Monopoly and, to a lesser extent, other board games. History buffs like me will find much of this fascinating.

The book explores possible reasons for Monopoly’s continuous appeal, and it uncovers interesting trivia as well. Though Monopoly may have provided a diversion for those suffering through the Great Depression, and though it served as a source of hiding contraband sent to POWs during World War II, Orbanes infers an even greater and disputable effect that the game had on history:

“Capitalism was destined to prevail. And so was the Monopoly game. Monopoly was officially published in Russian in 1987, sixteen years after Khrushchev died. The entire Soviet system was dismantled three years after the ban on Monopoly was lifted.”

Unless you’re a rabid game historian, you may find that this book tends to drag. Orbanes is a stickler for detail as he itemizes differences in board layouts and rules of earlier precursors, though photographs of The Landlord’s Game and various European and Special Monopoly Editions add a special touch to the book. He includes history and facts regarding U.S. and World Monopoly Championships, but he only divulges a little of the strategy involved. You have to do that work for yourself.

I think we can all agree that at whatever the level of play, Monopoly requires, skill, luck, and definite social interaction. Monopoly: The World’s Most Famous Game—and How it Got that Way gives readers a greater appreciation of this little piece of our past…and present.

Ed. Note: For more on Monopoly, check out Tony’s review, Angela’s review of the American Edition, and Chris’s story, “How to Rule the World, Board Game Style.”

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