From Publishers Weekly
As a New Orleans Times-Picayune reporter, Bridges covered the early '90s senatorial and gubernatorial campaigns of presidential hopeful David Duke, etching a sober portrait in The Rise of David Duke (1994). Four years later, Bridges joined the Miami Herald, where he won a 1999 Pulitzer as part of an investigative team and began work on this book. He traces the historical background of gambling in Louisiana from pre-Civil War riverboats and the Louisiana Lottery (shut down by the federal government in 1907) to 1940s casinos. Edwin Edwards (aka "Silver Zipper," aka "Cajun King"), the only man to be elected governor of Louisiana four times, in the 1970s, '80s, and '90s, "could charm a society matron one minute and an oil-rig worker the next." When the bayou state's oil boom bottomed out in the 1980s, Edwards decided gambling could revive the economy, but the cash flow through casinos, riverboats and video poker led to corruption, greedy promoters and "snake-oil salesmen in expensive suits," as the Times-Picayune put it. Following FBI wiretaps and raids, the 72-year-old Edwards was indicted and convicted on charges of extortion from riverboat casino companies. Numerous quotes re-create remembered dialogue in this fascinating and fluid narrative reconstruction. Describing Louisiana as the country's most "exotic" state, Bridges does a formidable job of capturing its allure (as well as that of the former governor), but his easy flair is supported by high journalistic standards, including his meticulous attention to details and his exhaustive research which, all in all, make for an irresistible read. Photos not seen by PW. Agent, Flip Brophy. (May)Forecast: As the literature on Louisiana politics continues to grow and Louisiana in particular, the Big Easy remains a place of fascination for many Americans, this book, with its catchy, alliterative title, is destined for a prominent spot on the shelf.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
As an old Kentucky refrain goes, "In Kentucky politics are the damnedest." In analyzing political machinations and serious misuse of the public trust, especially by flamboyant Gov. Edwin Edward of Louisiana, Bridges, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Miami Herald reporter who covered Louisiana politics for the New Orleans Times-Picayune in the early 1990s, makes Kentucky politics seem tame. After discussing Louisiana's often sordid but always entertaining political history, the author devotes the remainder of the monograph to telling what happened when the state legalized gambling in the 1990s under Governor Edwards. Using primarily oral interviews with many of the participants, including Edwards himself, and files from the Times-Picayune, Bridges focuses on the key role fourth-term Governor Edwards played in bringing gambling to Louisiana. As an Edwards critic observed, "[H]e had a tragic character flaw; he thinks of politics as a way to make money for himself and his friends rather than public service. The flaw finally brought him to his knees." While critical of Louisiana's failed gambling experiment, Bridges's narrative is an excellent example of detailed investigative reporting that reads like a mystery novel. Recommended for public libraries. Charles C. Hay III, Eastern Kentucky Univ. Lib., Richmond
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Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.