The Santa Claus Man: The Rise and Fall of a Jazz Age Con Man and the Invention of Christmas in New York

Alex Palmer. Globe Pequot/Lyons, $25.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-4930-0844-5
Palmer (Weird-O-Pedia) uncovers the story of his great-granduncle John Duval Gluck Jr., the man behind the Santa Claus Association. In 1913, after learning that the U.S. Postal Service received hundreds of letters each year from children to Santa Claus, Gluck created an organization dedicated to responding to them. Originally designed to “spread Christmas cheer” and “protect [children’s] belief in Santa Claus,” the association grew rapidly as the donations started flowing in, and New Yorkers volunteered to buy presents for needy children as the modern concept of Santa Claus took root in American culture. The distraction of WWI proved to be a boon for unscrupulous charities, many of which were unsupervised, creating a breeding ground for corruption in which Gluck took part. Palmer deftly weaves in other 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 (in which opposing armies traded goods) to tell the larger story of America’s adoption and adaptation of Christmas that endures to this day. It’s a highly readable account of the evolution of one of America’s favorite holidays and traditions. Agent: Michelle Tessler, Tessler Literary Agency. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/10/2015
Release date: 10/01/2015
Portable Document Format (PDF) - 272 pages - 978-1-4930-1890-1
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-1-4930-2659-3
Compact Disc - 978-1-4945-1725-0
MP3 CD - 978-1-4945-6725-5
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