In this lively and probing book, award-winning author Pete Earley traces the extraordinary evolution of Las Vegas -- from the gaudy Mecca of the Rat Pack era to one of the country's top family vacation spots. He revisits the city's checkered history of moguls, mobsters, and entertainers, reveals the real stories of well-known power brokers like Steve Wynn and legends like Howard Hughes and Bugsy Siegel, and offers a fascinating portrait of the life, death, and fantastic rebirth of the Las Vegas Strip.
Earley also documents the gripping tale of the entrepreneurs behind the rise and fall and rise again of one of the largest gaming corporations in the nation, Circus Circus -- to which he was given unique access. In his trademark you-are-there style, he takes us behind the scenes to meet the blackjack dealers and hookers, the heavy hitters and bit players, the security officers, cabbies, and showgirls who are caught up in the mercurial pace that pulses at the heart of this astounding city.
Former Washington Post
reporter Pete Earley, whose several books include a study of Leavenworth Prison, turns his meticulous journalistic eye on yet another notorious venue: Las Vegas. Don't expect him to unearth a spate of scandalous doings, though: Sin City isn't quite what it used to be. "Howard Hughes is now only a historical footnote," Earley writes. "Liberace's trademark candelabra sits in a museum. Elvis has been gone so long that tourists often think his impersonators look more like the King than he did. The old Las Vegas is dead."
The new Vegas, however, is very much alive. In two years of visits, with particular access to the Egyptian-themed Luxor Hotel, Earley gathers a comprehensive history of the city's "gaming" industry, including the biographies of such important figures as the Bellagio's Steve Wynn. He also takes a firsthand look into the lives of several Vegas residents and regulars. The book's chapters, often dense with historical fact, are neatly interrupted by fascinating first-person accounts: an old-time dealer talks about being threatened by Frank Sinatra, a hotel manager at a casino gets chewed out by her boss for renting out a $5,000 room to movie stars, and a cab driver talks about falling out of love with this high-rolling town, though he still tries to get his cut of the money. "The money," he says. "There is so much of it in this town that you learn to close your eyes. I hate it but I can't walk away. Who can?" Perhaps the readers of Super Casino will be able to restrain themselves after they read Earley's explanation of how clearly casino odds are stacked against them. --Maria Dolan