The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World's Favorite Board Game (Hardcover)

Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World's Favorite Board Game

By Mary Pilon

Bloomsbury USA, 9781608199631, 320pp.

Publication Date: February 17, 2015



"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 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 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.

About the Author

Mary Pilon is an award-winning journalist who writes primarily about sports and business, including as a staff reporter at the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. In 2011, she was named one of Forbes magazine's 30 Under 30 for media. Her work has appeared in Gawker, USA Today, Fast Company, the New Yorker, and New York magazine and she is an honors graduate of New York University. She lives in Brooklyn. Visit her website at and follow her on Twitter at @marypilon.

Coverage from NPR