When your boss and co-workers talk about how much they enjoy watching their favorite holiday classic, Miracle on 34th Street, you can tell them there is a new book telling the true story behind all of “Santa’s letters” – and even better – you can buy it for them this holiday season! Because that is the story told in The Santa Claus Man: The Rise and Fall of a Jazz Age Con Man and the Invention of Christmas in New York by Alex Palmer. 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. Here’s why.
In 1913, the Post Office Department introduced a new policy that allowed charity groups and individuals to answer Santa letters. Before this, the letters were sent to the Dead Letter Office (with any other letters going to fictional people) and destroyed. So, John Gluck, a New York City customs broker with ambitions to do more with his life, decided to take on his city’s letters, applying his business acumen and efficiency skills to create the Santa Claus Association. The organization required some innovative thinking on Gluck’s part: hundreds of letters had to be reviewed, investigated, and answered. Even tougher, he wanted to see that as many needy children as possible got the gifts they asked for. Add to that the fact that he had no budget to speak of, relying just on the generosity of New Yorkers to see that the kids would get a visit from Santa.
The Santa Claus Association grows from one year to the next, and Gluck continues devising creative ways to grow the organization, pulling in endorsements from movie stars and politicians, even announcing plans for a huge Santa Claus Building in the middle of Manhattan. But the book’s lessons take a darker, but no less insightful turn, when Gluck’s ambitions cross into darker territory, and he begins to use the Santa Claus Association to enrich himself. As the Santa Claus Man turns his effective management skills toward fraudulent fundraising and an astonishing number of other schemes, the book shifts into a compelling true crime tale. I think any fan of New York history, Christmas stories, or tales of loveable rogues will get a kick out of The Santa Claus Man.
To find out more about The Santa Claus Man by Alex Palmer, visit Amazon.