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Las Vegas Babylon: True Tales of Glitter, Glamour, and Greed Hardcover – October 4, 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: M. Evans & Company (October 4, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590770900
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590770900
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,201,617 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Vegas-based reporter Burbank aims to cut through the hype that surrounds the country's top tourist Mecca and reveal-in addition to the usual tales of excess and self-destruction-the "seriously malfunctioning society beneath the 'It's Vegas, baby!' façade." Part gossip smorgasbord, part cautionary tale, the book speeds through the city's century-long history, from its mob-dominated early flourishing to the less murderous but still sleazy local politics scene. (Where else are elected officials busted by the FBI in a topless club bribery investigation codenamed "G-Sting?") Burbank has taken his cue (and his title) from Kenneth Anger's iconic Hollywood Babylon, but this work has less of Anger's over-the-top cantankerous style, über-insider posturing and lurid details-it's more of a journalistic reckoning than a dark counter-myth of its own. A large chunk of the book is taken up by a catalogue of Vegas celebrity lore, dishing grand scandals like JFK's troubled affair with a mob moll alongside ridiculous fluff, such as a P.R. confrontation between Robin Leach and Emeril Lagasse over whipped-cream-smothered party girls. Burbank's doggedly contrarian stance is his main asset, and he has thought-provoking points to make on the drastic social and environmental costs of poorly-regulated city expansion and the monopolized local media. It might not attain the cult-classic status of its Hollywood namesake, but readers will enjoy a well-researched volume of lively stories about a city that turned 100 this year, and, like a chintzy lounge singer, shows no signs of slowing down.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

It's an all-you-can-eat buffet of scandal and A-list embarrassment. (Playgirl)

Customer Reviews

It is loaded with fun stories that you won't find anywhere else.
Ken R. Copper
Many of the vingettes the author includes in this mess have nothing to do with Las Vegas except that the city is where the story happened to take place.
Mark W. Huntley
It was obvious that it was written that way, but still the content was kind of stupid.
S. Snyder

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mark W. Huntley on May 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The stories presented in this cynical, hasty book could have happened anywhere--what does this have to do with Las Vegas? So the mob was involved in Las Vegas--so what? That topic is covered thoroughly in other, better-written books. So casino execs care more about the bottom line than about their customers--is that news? Also, how many times can the author describe casino partons as "losers" and "suckers"? The author then shares bawdy stories of unruly celebs, their sexual obscurities, etc. The author relishes sharing the naughty side of celebrities and politicians but then adopts a high-road attitude as if he's disgusted by them (and by Las Vegas as a whole). Tabloid journalism just to sell some books? Well, whatever sells, I suppose.

Many of the vingettes the author includes in this mess have nothing to do with Las Vegas except that the city is where the story happened to take place. The casinos, desert, history, etc. of Las Vegas has nothing to do with many of the chapters.

As if the negative tone wasn't enough to prevent people from trodding through this sensationalized tripe, there's roughly 90 typos, grammatical errors, broken sentences, etc. in this book. Maybe next time some of the money spent on the dust jacket design could be diverted to hiring a proof-reader? I'm not exaggerating, by the way. During certain chapters the errors can be found as frequently as every other page.

What a waste of time. There's only about 20 other books on Las Vegas that I would recommend before this. Then again if you're hard up for mean, amateurish, and irrelevant writing, this book might be just what you're looking for.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michael A. Dantley on March 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
While not the worse book on Sin City, the glaring omission of Vegas' most famous resident is unforgiveable. Reduced to little more than a footnote by the author, its unfathomable that Howard R. Hughes, Jr. would not have at least 2 chapters devoted to his Vegas footprint.

Rather than move out of the Desert Inn, Hughes bought it! Hughes didn't even want to move down one floor with no charge for 6 months (ask the author why). With more than a half billion dollars in windfall cash from the TWA judgement, Hughes treated the Vegas Strip like his own personal monopoly board. Even beyond the feat of personally owning more casinos (5 or 6) than any other human on earth, the man NEVER, I repeat, NEVER appeared before the Nevada Gaming Commission (a requirement by law for everbody else but him?). Never mind that he tried to derail the Atomic Energy Commission from testing bombs 90 miles outside Vegas'! He swore out he could feel the earth shaking. Of course, when $100,000 of your money finds its way to 1600 Penn Ave., wouldn't you ask a favor, too?

Hughes never set foot in his casinos - he never even set foot on Las Vegas Blvd. In fact, Howard R. Hughes, Jr. never set foot on Nevada soil. He rolled into, and out of, town by private railcar; his Mormon aides carried him by stretcher into, and out of, the Desert Inn penthouse. Howard R. Hughes bought numerous casinos from known mobsters (Big Bob Maheu was the face of HRH), all from the 'comfort' of the blacked-out penthouse he occupied the years he was in Vegas'. The man NEVER saw the Vegas sun.

The fact that Mr. Burbank omits each and every one of these 'minor details' is appalling in a book entitled Las Vegas Babylon. It's like leaving Al Capone out of 'Windy City Babylon', or leaving Alfred P. Sloan out of a book on GM. This major omission is a cardinal sin for someone supposedly a journalist. Glad I only paid...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. Snyder on August 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After reading the reviews on this book..... I still was interested enough to buy it.

The first hundred or so pages were interesting, albeit a little light on the details that you would want to read about the start of sin city, but kept me reading.

About 1/2 way through, it started to bore me when the chapters seemed like they were just "thrown in" to fill pages and the new chapter had absolutely nothing to do with the previous one. It was obvious that it was written that way, but still the content was kind of stupid. Many of the chapters that started off interesting were soon dull. Filler for sure.

The last 1/4 of the book was so F'ing boring that I had to force myself to finish it.

Typos and grammatical errors (as one reader indicated) were abundant - like no one really edited it.

Personally, I would NOT read another book written by this author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Steven E. Tiernan on March 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I found the book very intersting and a quick read since it was split into many short chapters of all sorts of interesting characters and events. Not sure who, if anyone, proof read it though. There are numerous grammatical errors and several incidents where it seems little mistakes were overlooked. For instance it said Tony Spilotro started his fifteen year Vegas career in 1986 (thats when it ended) and said Wynn Las Vegas was the most expensive casino ever built at the time (2.7 million? Maybe billion!?) Overlooking the minor details it is a good book with lots of interesting stories for the novice Vegas reader. Recommend it. Good one for the flight to Vegas.
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