The Santa Claus Man

The rise and fall of a jazz age con man and the invention of christmas in new york

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New York Times Bestseller

#1 Amazon Bestseller – True Crime
#1 Amazon Bestseller – Christmas

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.

Bowery Boys’ 10 Favorite New York History Books of the Year

“An engaging history of early 20th-century New York City and the modern notion of Santa Claus...Intriguing stories of stolen art, gun-toting Boy Scouts, a child’s kidnapping, Clement Clarke Moore’s writing of A Visit from St Nicholas and the World War I Christmas Day armistice are among the many stories woven into Palmer’s larger account of how Christmas evolved into the celebration we now know. Verdict Highly recommended for history fans."
— Library Journal

"Required reading." 
— New York Post

"A solid read for those who enjoy Santa Claus culture, crime, and history from the streets of Manhattan."
— Parade

"Palmer deftly weaves in cultural touchstones such as the genesis of the Boy Scouts, Clement Clarke Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” and the WWI Christmas Day armistice to tell the larger story of America’s adoption and adaptation of Christmas that endures to this day...[It's] highly readable."
— Publishers Weekly

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 Santa Claus Man is a holiday tale with a dark underbelly — great for any fan of NYC history, Christmas stories, and tales of colorful con artists. 

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