The Santa Claus Man: The Rise and Fall of a Jazz Age Con Man and the Invention of Christmas in New York by Alex Palmer
GENRE: History/True Crime
Before the charismatic John Duval Gluck, Jr. came along, letters from New York City children to Santa Claus were destroyed, unopened, by the U.S. Post Office. Gluck saw an opportunity, and created the Santa Claus Association. The effort delighted the public, and for 15 years money and gifts flowed to the only group authorized to answer Santa’s mail. Gluck became a Jazz Age celebrity, rubbing shoulders with the era’s movie stars and politicians, and even planned to erect a vast Santa Claus monument in the center of Manhattan — until Gotham’s crusading charity commissioner discovered some dark secrets in Santa’s workshop.
The rise and fall of the Santa Claus Association is a caper both heartwarming and hardboiled, involving stolen art, phony Boy Scouts, a kidnapping, pursuit by the FBI, a Coney Island bullfight, and above all, the thrills and dangers of a wild imagination. It’s also the larger story of how Christmas became the extravagant holiday we celebrate today, from Santa’s early beginnings in New York to the country’s first citywide Christmas tree and Macy’s first grand holiday parade. The Santa Claus Man is a holiday tale with a dark underbelly, and an essential read for lovers of Christmas stories, true crime, and New York City history.
If Gluck has a legacy, it is that once he moved the children’s wishes out of the Dead Letter Office, it proved hard to send them back. For years, the Post Office continued to offer the letters on an informal basis, with occasional help from private charity groups.
Then, in 1962, the New York City Post Office formalized the process of answering Santa letters. Today, hundreds of local groups handle the answering of letters across the US under the umbrella of Operation Santa Claus.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Alex Palmer is the author of The Santa Claus Man: The Rise and Fall of a Jazz Age Con Man and the Invention of Christmas in New York, called "required reading" by the New York Post and "highly readable" by Publishers Weekly.
Amazon.com - http://www.amazon.com/Santa-Claus-Man-Invention-Christmas/dp/1493008447/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1430324363&sr=1-7
Barnes & Noble - http://www.amazon.com/Santa-Claus-Man-Invention-Christmas/dp/1493008447/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1430324363&sr=1-7
IndieBound - http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781493008445
It tells the history of Christmas in America through the true-crime tale of a Jazz Age hustler who founded an organization to answer children's Santa letters -- and fuel his own dark dreams. Palmer curated an exhibit about this Santa Claus Association for Brooklyn's City Reliquary Museum, earning attention from the Village Voice, Time Out New York, and inspiring a memorable segment on WNYC (http://wny.cc/1bQIx5k).
The son of two teachers, Palmer's love of learning and sharing surprising stories behind familiar subjects has led him to become a secret-history sleuth. In addition to The Santa Claus Man, he is the author of Weird-o-pedia: The Ultimate Collection of Surprising, Strange, and Incredibly Bizarre Facts About (Supposedly) Ordinary Things, published in 2012 by Skyhorse Publishing. it offers up a wealth of unexpected facts of familiar things. His first book, Literary Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Literature, takes a look at some of the more colorful aspects of great writers and their works, and was published in 2010 by Skyhorse.
He is a full-time freelance journalist whose work has appeared in Slate, Rhapsody, Smithsonian, Vulture, the New York Daily News, Publishers Weekly, and The Rumpus, among others.
See more at www.alexpalmerwrites.com and follow him @theAlexPalmer.
Alex will be awarding a $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour,
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