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Boardwalk Empire and Philosophy 

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ISBN 978-0-8126-9832-9


288 pages

September 2013

Boardwalk Empire and Philosophy

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Edited by Richard Greene and Rachel Robison-Greene
Volume 77 in the Popular Culture and Philosophy® series

"Set in a caricature-world of the Roaring Twenties as they might have been in an alternate reality, Boardwalk Empire faces us with life-and-death issues of metaphysics, ethics, and political philosophy. In Boardwalk Empire and Philosophy, sixteen philosophical bootleggers bring you contraband ideas and illicit truths the thought police might not want you to consume.”

—Ashley Barkman, co-editor of The Culture and Philosophy of Ridley Scott

“Who is Nucky Thompson? A king? A prince? Is he even happy? Richard Greene and Rachel Robinson-Greene turn the Boardwalk into the School of Athens. God is dead, long live Nucky!”

—Wayne Yuen, Professor of Philosophy at Ohlone College and editor of The Walking Dead and Philosophy

 “Boardwalk Empire is based on personalities and historical events surrounding Prohibition, so the philosophical issues presented connect up with many facets of the real world. Boardwalk Empire and Philosophy looks at several intriguing philosophical problems through the lens—or boardwalk viewfinder, if you will—of one of the most provocative and thought-provoking shows on TV.”

—Robert Arp, co-author of What’s Good on TV? Teaching Ethics through Television

Boardwalk Empire, the hit HBO period drama set in Atlantic City during Prohibition, is a prime target for philosophical enquiry. The chapters in this book reflect the strong philosophical and moral themes— from the Machiavellian tactics of Nucky Thompson to the ethics of bootlegging—of one of television’s highest rated and most thought-provoking dramas.”

— Siobhan Lyons, PhD candidate, Macquarie University

 “Did you ever think you would read about Nucky Thompson, Capone, and Prohibition through the lens of Machiavelli, Freud, and Nietzche? No? Well, Boardwalk Empire and Philosophy provides that discussion and opens up the collision of two worlds that is both entertaining and thought provoking.”

— James D. Holt, Senior Lecturer in Religious Education, University of Chester

“Martin Scorsese’s very sober look at this incredible time in American history can help us understand the events and values that shaped the America we know. Boardwalk Empire and Philosophy ranges from the essence of happiness and the American Dream to the morality of lying and the nature of truth itself. Instead of two thumbs up, I give it two ‘bottoms up’!”

— Abrol Fairweather, Professor of Philosophy, San Francisco State University

Richard Greene is Professor of Philosophy at Weber State University and Rachel Robison-Greene is a PhD candidate in philosophy at UMass Amherst. Together they co-edited Dexter and Philosophy: Mind over Spatter (2011) and The Golden Compass and Philosophy: God Bites the Dust (2009).

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