The Santa Claus Man: The Rise and Fall of a Jazz Age Con Man and the Invention of Christmas in New York Price: $16.28 (as of 21/09/2019 03:02 PST- Details)



“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.”
(Publishers Weekly)

“Required reading” (New York Post)

” Miracle on 34th Street encounters the Wolf of Wall Street in this holiday biography of “the man who saved Christmas” during New York’s Jazz Age. A solid read for those who enjoy Santa Claus culture, crime, and history from the streets of Manhattan.” (

“Fascinating and compelling – this book is sure to be a hit in the office this year for Secret-Santa gifts, something special for the boss, and even suitable as a bulk-purchase for every employee company wide. Actually, this exciting new book should be considered as a holiday corporate gift for top customers and suppliers in addition to office workers across every generation.” (

“Engaging…intriguing…highly recommended for history fans.” (Library Journal)

“One of 10 Favorite New York City History Books of 2015.” (The Bowery Boys)

Palmer takes the reader on an interesting and informative history of how Christmas has become the monster holiday that it is in New York.” (The Tablet)

“What do you get when you cross thousands of poor children writing letters to Santa Claus with a silver-tongued con artist and his big dreams? You get a rollicking true story of Christmas in New York City in the Roaring Twenties, complete with kind-hearted millionaires, corrupt politicians, crusading reformers and a man, not entirely a crook, who wanted to make needy kids a little happier. Alex Palmer’s The Santa Claus Man is a fascinating look at how Christmas tugs at both the heart and the wallet and how a dapper advertising genius with a waxed moustache used Santa to make himself, for a moment at least, rich and famous. Lovers of the world’s favorite holiday will find enjoyment and enlightenment in this entertaining new history.”
— Gerry Bowler, author of
Santa Claus: A Biography and The World Encyclopedia of Christmas

“Gun-toting boy scouts? Baby cribs hung from skyscraper windows? A Christmas building with a giant stained-glass Santa Claus in midtown New York? Those are a few ploys of scam artist and quasi-philanthropist John Gluck, as told in Alex Palmer’s lively and well-researched biography of him. The Santa Claus Man draws a picture of an era in New York when the pockets of the wealthy were open to anyone who was willing to buy into schemes with kind-hearted promises of help to the poor. Gluck’s greatest success, the Santa Claus Association, attracted society ladies and movie stars by promising to fulfill the wishes of children who wrote to Santa begging for gifts, until it was investigated by an alert and suspicious public welfare official. Palmer’s book is fun to read and raises questions about gullibility and fraud even more relevant today than they were in the 1920s. “
—Jean Ashton, New York Historical Society’s Library Director Emerita

“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and his name is John Duval Gluck, Jr., the founder of the Santa Claus Association in New York City in 1913. Have yourself a very merry Christmas by picking up a copy of the heartwarming and heartbreaking story of Gluck, skillfully written by Alex Palmer in his new book, The Santa Claus Man. It is a true gift to anyone who ever wanted to believe in Santa, recounting Gluck’s effort to make the legend of Santa a reality to children by responding to the thousands of letters written to the North Pole that ended up in the dead letter files in the city’s post offices. Palmer superbly recounts the trials and tribulations of Gluck and his organization as well as placing the Christmas holiday and the invention of Santa Claus into historical perspective. I suggest that while you’re dashing through the snow you pick up a copy of this inspiring book as a present for you and your whole family.”
— J. North Conway, author of the New York City Gilded Age Trilogy:
King of Heists, The Big Policeman and Bag of Bones

From the Back Cover

The true story of John Duval Gluck, Jr., who in 1913 founded the Santa Claus Association, which had the sole authority to answer Santa’s mail in New York City. He ran the organization for 15 years, gaining fame for making the myth of Santa a reality to poor children by arranging for donors to deliver the toys they requested, until a crusading charity commissioner exposed Gluck as a fraud. The story is wide in scope, interweaving a phony Boy Scout group, kidnapping, stolen artwork, and appearances by the era’s biggest stars and New York City’s most famous landmarks. The book is both a personal story and a far-reaching historical one, tracing the history of Christmas celebration in America and the invention of Santa Claus.

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Jazz Musician Biographies

Christmas (Books)

Crime & Criminal Biographies



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