For longtime Jersey residents, the phrase "Atlantic City politics" carries a pungent aroma all its own; the strong scent of cigars in backrooms, stale smoke from gambling arenas. New Jersey Superior Court judge Nelson Johnson has been observing the underpinnings of the boardwalk scene for three decades, both as a professional and an amateur history buff. His scintillating new book traces the city's long, eventful path from birth to seaside resort to a scandal-ridden crime center and beyond. The Sopranos with salt-water taffy. Now in paperback. (Hand-selling tip: When we assert that BOARDWALK EMPIRE possesses cinematic potential, we're not just speculating. An HBO series based on Johnson's book is in the works now with a pilot directed by Martin Scorsese!