The Monopolists Book Summary - The Monopolists Book explained in key points
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The Monopolists summary

Mary Pilon

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

4.2 (15 ratings)
18 mins

Brief summary

'The Monopolists' by Mary Pilon is a fascinating look at the history of the game of Monopoly and the battle for its ownership. It's a story of greed, fraud, and the complex origins of a beloved cultural icon.

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    The Monopolists
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    Parker Brothers created the myth of Monopoly’s origins to try to keep competitors at bay.

    The board game Monopoly, first developed in the early twentieth century, is not only a wildly popular game but also a cultural icon. So much so that it even has a mythical origin story, too.

    A man named Charles Darrow allegedly invented Monopoly during the Great Depression. Living in poverty, Darrow tried to sell his game idea to companies such as Parker Brothers, but had no luck.

    Frustrated by his failures, Darrow instead decided to produce the game himself. As the board game's popularity grew by word of mouth, game companies started to pay attention. Parker Brothers came around and in the end, bought Darrow’s game. He became wealthy, a true rags-to-riches story.

    But is this really how Monopoly came to be?

    It's not. Darrow never invented the game Monopoly. Friends taught him how to play it; he then redesigned it. So why did Parker Brothers push this made-up history instead of the truth?

    At the time, Parker Brothers was an ailing game company. On the brink of collapse, the company’s main troubles stemmed from its inability to keep competitors from stealing its games.

    Parker Brothers had trademarked the highly successful game Ping Pong, for example. As Ping Pong’s popularity grew, however, competitors got around trademark issues simply by producing similar versions that were still different enough to be legally defendable.

    The popular game Monopoly offered Parker Brothers a new start. If the company could write its own history of how the game was created, it could ensure that it maintained complete control of the concept. Darrow, the alleged inventor, was happy to go along; and Parker Brothers sealed the deal.

    But what is behind the lies? How did Monopoly really come into being?

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    What is The Monopolists about?

    The Monopolists (2015) unveils the true yet checkered history of Parker Brothers's most successful board game, Monopoly. It tells the tale of the game’s origins in progressive, anti-capitalist thinking to its evolution under the control of Parker Brothers, a company that went to extraordinary lengths to rewrite Monopoly’s history and crush any competition in the process.

    The Monopolists Review

    The Monopolists (2015) by Mary Pilon is a fascinating exploration of the controversial history behind the board game Monopoly, and why it's definitely worth reading:

    • With gripping storytelling and meticulous research, the book uncovers the true origins of Monopoly, debunking the widely-held myth surrounding its creation.
    • By delving into the lawsuits, legal battles, and secret dealings, The Monopolists reveals the cutthroat world of early twentieth-century capitalism in a way that is both eye-opening and engaging.
    • Through its examination of the game's evolution and its impact on American culture, the book offers a fresh perspective on the enduring popularity and lasting influence of Monopoly.

    Best quote from The Monopolists

    Critics such as George noted that capitalism was good at creating wealth, but it could be lousy at distributing it.

    —Mary Pilon
    example alt text

    Who should read The Monopolists?

    • Fans of the board game Monopoly
    • Lawyers or specialists in trademark or property rights laws
    • Historians or popular culture fanatics

    About the Author

    Mary Pilon is a reporter for The New York Times, and has also written for The Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine and USA Today.

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    The Monopolists FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Monopolists?

    The Monopolists delves into the intriguing history of the board game Monopoly and explores the true origins of this iconic game.

    How long does it take to read The Monopolists?

    The reading time for The Monopolists varies, but it can take several hours. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Monopolists a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Monopolists is a fascinating and worthwhile read that sheds light on the little-known backstory of Monopoly. Discover the secrets behind this beloved game.

    Who is the author of The Monopolists?

    The author of The Monopolists is Mary Pilon.

    What to read after The Monopolists?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Monopolists, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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