Introducing a great new book about Atlantic City!

In the mid 1800s, Jonathan Pitney looked out onto Absecon Island and saw nothing but potential, and today investors, visitors and residents look at Atlantic City and see the same thing as the second wave of the city's casino-fueled renaissance breaks on the shore line. With nearly 500 photographs and Bill Kent's engaging narrative, America's Playground tells the story of Atlantic City from the early days as a primitive health resort through the rollicking times of enormous wooden and stone hotels and amusement piers with their never-ending delights. The story looks back at the trials and travails of a city in decline and rejoices in the present day as the Queen of Resorts regains her throne.

Bill Kent remembers the old Atlantic City, when, as a child growing up in South Jersey, he loved the aroma of roasted nuts billowing out of Planters Peanuts and bought toys at Rappaport's in the Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel. Like every visitor to Atlantic City, he peered through the cracks in the Boardwalk and wondered what was down there. As a reporter, he has covered the birth of the new Atlantic City, writing for the New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and more than 40 regional and national publications. He has taught writing and journalism at the University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers and Temple Universities. Atlantic City was the inspiration for his series of mystery novels, Under the Boardwalk, Down by the Sea, and On a Blanket With My Baby. He has also written the guidebook, Fodor's Vacations on the Jersey Shore. Bill Kent lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and son.

Robert E. Ruffolo, Jr. is the proprietor of Princeton Antiques and Books in Atlantic City, and one of the world's foremost dealers in rare and out-of-print books with a remarkable ability to find almost any book in the world. In his hometown of Greensboro, NC, Mr. Ruffolo's mother, Betsy, the comptroller for a magazine and comic book distributor, unwittingly started the young collector in his career by filling his bedroom with every comic book in print. As a college student in 1972, the shoobie came to Atlantic City to work in his fathers antique business and together they expanded into rare books (including the comic variety) Today, with sand in his sandals, he's the Chairman of the Atlantic City Historical Museum and the one of the world's largest collectors of Atlantic City photographs and memorabilia.

When Lauralee Dobbins and her friends from Audubon High School took a bus to Atlantic City to tape a teen dance program called "The Steel Pier Show," no one thought of the excursion as something that would lead to a career. But today, Ms. Dobbins is a South Jersey writer and public relations consultant whose work, for more than a decade, has been focused primarily on promoting Atlantic City events and casinos. For the past two years, Ms. Dobbins has worked as editor, photo editor and project coordinator for America's Playground, which has occasionally required fancy footwork, but thankfully no dancing. She is also the co-author of the 1997 Harper Collins publication, Ageless-What Every Woman Needs to Know to Look Good and Feel Great.

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