Trimmed hair, wire-rimmed glasses. No Mickey Spillane hardened prison-guard mug here. None of James Ellroy’s psycho-oddity. Nelson Johnson isn’t dark or brooding. He’s open and chatty, almost cheery, like David McCullough but, at 62, younger.
Likewise, Nelson’s book, “Boardwalk Empire” is a detailed, thoughtful, academic history of Atlantic City. Not the blood-spattered, tommy-gun staccato, gangster series that debuts tonight on HBO.
“Terence Winter said my book was the inspiration for what they are doing,” the author said. “They made a highly fictionalized version of Nucky Johnson. For instance, in the show, Nucky Thompson orders murders, but I don’t believe Nucky Johnson ever had anybody killed. He didn’t have to. He had so much power that if you didn’t play ball, he would just freeze you out.”
“Boardwalk Empire,” the book, is published by Plexus Publishing of Medford, which publishes South Jersey histories and books on local nature.