Monopoly doesn’t necessarily bring out the best in people. It can be excessively competitive. To avoid bloodshed, or at least a pitched battle using little wooden houses, families have been known to outlaw it. Yet it remains one of the most widely loved board games ever produced. What may come as a surprise – or possibly not, depending on one’s level of cynicism – is to learn that its history is as full of underhand dealings, fraud, legal battles and, yes, monopolistic shenanigans as anything in the game itself.
Ever since the American games company Parker Brothers first put it on sale in 1935, a foundation myth about the invention of Monopoly has circulated. What happened, so the story goes, is that a salesman named Charles Darrow, on his uppers, was inspired to devise a game on a piece