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Writing History

With Nelson Johnson, author of Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City


This week's guest spent two decades researching his history of Atlantic City. Please join us as he explains how he worked and what kept him going for so long.

Nelson Johnson, whose family’s presence in Atlantic County predates the founding of Atlantic City, is a lifelong resident of Hammonton, New Jersey. He practiced law for 30 years and was active in Atlantic City and Atlantic County politics through much of that period. As attorney for the Atlantic City Planning Board at the time of the approvals for many of the casinos, he was inspired first to make sense of Atlantic City and later to write an objective political history of the town. The interviews, research, and writing Johnson undertook spanned nearly two decades and resulted in the 2002 book, Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City.

Johnson continues to work as an author, researcher, and historian but his day job has changed since the release of Boardwalk Empire: He is currently a Judge of the New Jersey Superior Court, sitting in the Civil Division of Atlantic County.

HBO has given the series greenlight to the Martin Scorsese-produced period drama "Boardwalk Empire," which is based on the book. The network has ordered eleven episodes of the series, which revolves around the life of 1920s Atlantic City bigwig Nucky Johnson, played by Steve Buscemi. The pilot has already been shot.

Interviewee: Nelson Johnson
Host: Paula B.
Date: October 4, 2009
Running time: 01:05:12
File size: 31 megabytes
Rating: PG (minor swearing)
Nelson Johnson's Web site:

Purchase Nelson Johnson's book at