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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Super Casino: Inside the "New" Las Vegas » User review

On the Inside

  • Jan 30, 2000
Earley has combined two books in one. In the first, as a cultural anthropologist, he examines the creation and evolution of what has become one of the world's most fascinating communities. In the second, as a journalist, he focuses on The Luxor to which he was given almost complete access. We are thus provided with an abundance of historical information which creates a frame-of-reference within which to examine virtually every component of a single casino. In so saying, I do NOT in any way want to suggest that Super Casino is in any sense dry, dull, etc. On the contrary, it is a page-turner. There are so many colorful "characters" ("players"?) portrayed, so many spell-binding plots and subplots, so many memorable moments. We tag along with Earley as he observes and interacts with a veritable "feast" of humanity and inhumanity. They're all here. Pioneers. Con artists. Celebrity entertainers. Pinstriped Samurai. Mobsters. Visionaries. Pimps and prostitutes. Bottom feeders. Victims. Victimizers. Perhaps not since ancient Rome was most glorious and most decadent has there been another community on this planet in which the best and worst qualities of the human race have been more in evidence than within the gaming segment of Las Vegas.

Those who read this book may incorrectly conclude that the Strip and Las Vegas are the same. They are not. It has been my great privilege and pleasure to explore the metropolitan area and, in terms of its (non-casino) business climate and quality of life, I would rate it very highly. Indeed, superior to almost all other metropolitan areas. But that is not the subject of Earley's book.

Who will most enjoy reading it? My guess is that they would include those who have already experienced Las Vegas and perhaps have asked "How did all this happen? What really occurs behind the scene? What is the inside story on all the changes which have occurred?" Also those who have never been to Las Vegas but have seen the movies (eg Ocean's Eleven and Casino), have heard about the antics of celebrities (eg Howard Hughes, Elvis, Sinatra and his Rat Pack, Liberace, Wayne Newton), have read about the extravagances (Steve Wynn's art collection), and ask "How much of this is true? Is it really like that?"

This is a "great read."

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About the reviewer
Robert Morris ()
Ranked #169
Professionally, I am an independent management consultant who specializes in accelerated executive development and breakthrough high-impact organizational performance. I also review mostly business books … more
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About this book


FormerWashington Postreporter 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 ...

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ISBN-10: 0553095021
ISBN-13: 978-0553095029
Author: Pete Earley
Publisher: Bantam

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"On the Inside"
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