The Santa Claus Man: The Rise and Fall of a Jazz Age Con Man and the Invention of Christmas in New YorkAlex Palmer
The Santa Claus Man covers the same period of time that Edith Wharton skewered so brilliantly in fiction, but it’s even more disquieting because it was real, and I loved it as much as I love all Gilded Age tales. The New York this book describes is a utopia where children’s letters to Santa are always answered and Boy Scouts keep American manhood alive.
But, of course, this was a fantasy. The American experiment has always had duplicity, even in our most cherished institutions. I won’t look at Christmas the same way after reading this, but I do appreciate it more.