Boardwalk Empire, which HBO has renewed after only one episode, dips into the idealized fiction of the booze-banned Prohibition years with a glossy, engrossing, and, of course, violent series about Atlantic City’s underworld dealings. Though it remains one of the most over-romanticized periods in American history, the edgy appeal of those post-World War I carpe diem years is hard to dispute — whether on the screen or on the page. So keep yourself immersed in the bootlegger fantasy with these nonfiction titles that best capture the decadence and delusion of the Prohibition era.
Stork Club: America’s Most Famous Nightspot and the Lost World of Cafe Society by Ralph Blumenthal
The Stork Club was the destination of choice for top celebrities, artists, and visiting royals from the time that it opened during Prohibition until it finally closed its doors 40 years later. Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Ralph Blumenthal details the club’s rise and fall through the story of its owner Sherman Billingsley, who dealt with gangsters and union leaders with the same charisma that also made him a success among high-society tastemakers until his final downfall.