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Editors’ Bookshelf

February 2024
1min read

One day in 1986 a young reporter for Atlantic City magazine named Jonathan Van Meter spotted an item in the local paper: “Paul ‘Skinny’ D’Amato ESTATE SALE Memorabilia, Photographs, Furniture, Clothing, Etc.” In the house—a shrine to mid-1960s luxe, “all oranges and whites and browns and camels and taupes"—Van Meter looked at photographs of D’Amato with members of the Rat Pack and came away with a wearable pair of white suede loafers and a lasting fascination that eventually led him to write The Last Good Time: Skinny D’Amato, the Notorious 500 Club & the Rise and Fall of Atlantic City (Crown). The contained, publicity-shy D’Amato first brought Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis together to entertain at his 500 Club and taught Frank Sinatra how to hold a cigarette. He had ties to organized crime and the Kennedy White House, and he had a great life until everything began to go catastrophically awry. Van Meter tells his racy story with the greatest relish and in the process traces the history of a fascinating and singular city while exploring how a man can acquire immense influence and yet manage to live out his entire life in the shadows.

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