There's More to New Jersey than the Sopranos

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An American tourist in Europe stopped at a restaurant in Gdansk, Poland, and struck up a conversation with a local. "Where do you come from?" he asked. "New Jersey," she said. He smiled and replied, "Ah, Sopranos!"

Even fans of that popular show, one that held viewers captive, may be a bit disheartened to discover that the first thing that pops into minds around the world about New Jersey is a dysfunctional crime family, just an exit or two off the infamous N.J. Turnpike. But ...

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There's More to New Jersey than the Sopranos

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Overview


An American tourist in Europe stopped at a restaurant in Gdansk, Poland, and struck up a conversation with a local. "Where do you come from?" he asked. "New Jersey," she said. He smiled and replied, "Ah, Sopranos!"

Even fans of that popular show, one that held viewers captive, may be a bit disheartened to discover that the first thing that pops into minds around the world about New Jersey is a dysfunctional crime family, just an exit or two off the infamous N.J. Turnpike. But there's no need to live in fear that the only culture and history that the state is known for is, well, let's say, a bit of bada bing. Actually, the echo of the Big Bang—the cosmic event that marked the birth of our universe some 13.7 billion years ago—was first identified by scientists from Bell Labs in Murray Hill, New Jersey.

In this lively romp through history from the primitive past to the present day, Marc Mappen's message resonates—There's More to New Jersey than the Sopranos. Real tales, wise tales, tall tales abound throughout the pages of Mappen's collection, filled with zest, humor, scandal, and occasionally tragedy. Annie Oakley. Ulysses S. Grant. Benedict Arnold. Ezra Pound. Shoeless Joe Jackson. These luminaries and many others share a common bond with the state that witnessed prehistoric elephants roaming its pastures, the explosion on the USS Princeton, a Martian invasion, famous firsts like the phonograph, electric light, and movies, and, well, step aside Tony Soprano: mobster Al Capone strolling along the Atlantic City boardwalk.

Providing a lens into American history through lively prose and more than twenty-fiveillustrations, There's More to New Jersey than the Sopranos is as much fun as a trip to the Jersey Shore and definitely more rewarding than a night home watching television— simply stated, this book is one you can't refuse to read.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
No state is more maligned than New Jersey. Just when people were beginning to forgive the Garden State for its pollution and constantly clogged parkways, The Sopranos came along to re-tarnish Jersey's never-pristine reputation. Fortunately, Encyclopedia of New Jersey co-editor Marc Mappen is on hand to bury all those bada-bing bad tidings with several dozen stories of home state pride. Mappen traces the state's many accomplishments to, believe it or not, the Big Bang of 13.7 billion years ago, noting that it was scientists at Murray Hill's Bell Labs that first pinpointed this original cosmological event. There's More to New Jersey than The Sopranos features cameo appearances by Benedict Arnold, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Annie Oakley, Ulysses S. Grant, Ezra Pound, and a horde of marauding Martians. A delightful romp.
Star-Ledger

"You can sense the twinkle in Marc Mappen's eyes as he tells tales--real, wise and tall--packed with zest, humor, scandal, and occasionally tragedy."
Home News Tribune

"Mappen pulls out little-known tidbits in our state's history to illustrate a long-standing assertion by many historians that it is difficult to find national and international events without some link to New Jersey. Mappen makes a sound argument to lift our state from a punchline to a more suitable noble station in our hearts and minds."
Department of History and Anthropology, Monmouth University - Dr. Richard Veit

"So, you think you know New Jersey history? Well, think again. In There's More to New Jersey than the Sopranos, Marc Mappen provides readers with dozens of fascinating Jersey stories. From long-buried mastodons to menacing Martians, it is all here. This book is a must-read."
Kean University - Mark Lender

"This is a delightful and informative book--where scholarship meets Weird New Jersey. Mappen is truly New Jersey's master historical storyteller."
Winner of the Richard J. Hughes Award for Lifetime Achievement in New Jersey His - Thomas Fleming

"There's More to New Jersey than the Sopranos lives up to its title, and then some. The book is a delightful read, full of wit and information on every page."
Garden State Legacy

"Mappen's little book, brimming with page-turning tales of our funny, ironic, serious, tragic, heroic, shameful, endlessly fascinating history is proof enough that it's title is indeed true. Five stars: Excellent in scholarship, writing style, and graphic/typography."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813545868
  • Publisher: Rivergate Books
  • Publication date: 9/1/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Marc Mappen is the coeditor of the award-winning Encyclopedia of New Jersey and author of Jerseyana: The Underside of New Jersey History (both Rutgers University Press). He has written articles for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Rutgers Magazine, New Jersey Heritage, and other publications and has appeared on the History Channel and National Public Radio.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
1 How We Got to Where We Are
2 When Prehistoric Elephants Roamed New Jersey
3 New Jersey Was Paradise
4 Move Over Betsy Ross
5 Good Golly, Miss Molly
6 The Caldwell Murder Case
7 "The Cow Chace"
8 Classical Gas
9 The Congressman's Cold
10 The First Flight
11 John Adams's Ass
12 Man Eats Tomato and Lives!
13 Explosion on the USS Princeton
14 Two New Jersey Soldiers in Confederate Prisons
15 General Grant Skips the Theater
16 The Jersey General and the Secret of Custer's Last Stand
17 Poor Mary Smith
18 Mrs. Stanton Steps Out in Tenafly
19 It's About Time
20 Leprosy in the Laundry
21 Stephen Crane Gets into Trouble
22 The Ghostly Sphynx of Metedeconk
23 Annie Oakley Lived in Nutley, New Jersey
24 Scandal at the Girls' Reform School
25 Alice Goes for a Drive
26 Billy Sunday Came to Trenton on Monday
27 Ezra Pound Insults Newark
28 Cher Ami
29 The Poet, the Athlete, and the War to End All Wars
30 The Applejack Campaign
31 Swan Song for Shoeless Joe
32 The Tragic Fall of the Mexican Lindbergh
33 On the Boardwalk with Al Capone
34 The Morro Castle Mystery
35 The Rise and Fall of a Great Detective
36 Mommy Was a Commie
37 The Martian Invasion
38 When New Jersey Was a Nazi Target
39 Teleporting Penguin Lands in New Jersey
40 The Serpent in the Garden State: A Brief History of Corruption
41 Postscript: How to Write an Encyclopedia of New Jersey in Nine Easy Years

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