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on June 8, 2011
This is a great book if you like the show Pawn Stars on History. It's my favorite show so when I saw this book was coming out I pre-ordered it and read it completely the day it was released. It's a great insight to the ins & outs of the Gold & Silver pawn shop in Las Vegas. Rick covers things from his personal life, his family's dramatic push for financial success and everything (no, literally everything) in between. Thrown in the mix are stories about some of his memorable shop patrons and stories about them or the items they brought in. He goes in to details about the show as well.

This is an excellent, entertaining, insightful, fun and inspirational book for any fan of the show, of pawn shops in general or the American dream. (go figure, a NON fiction where hard work, dedication, knowledge, hustle pays off) Stop reading this and go read the book.
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on June 8, 2011
This is a really quick and interesting read behind the curtain with the Pawn Stars. Pawn Stars is my running on the treadmill show, and when I heard about this book I preordered and read within 24 hours. It has several interesting stories about what Rick and company have seen and received on Pawn. Does make the show a little less watchable as they say they no longer work the desk and the show is set up and the store is closed, but I really enjoy the history lesson, bargaining, and interactions on the show. Always wondered the story behind the Patriot superbowl ring, and now I know.

The book gives background on Rick, Old Man, Big Hoss, and Chumlee that gives more insight into the "characters". Worth the read if you enjoy the show.
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on June 9, 2011
I received this book yesterday afternoon and finished it this morning. I was a good read and hard to put down. I was shocked at some of the things in the book and how open and honest everyone was concerning their backgrounds and struggles. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the show and really enjoyed reading it. If I had a complaint it would be I wished they talked more about some of the unique and historic items that have come through the shop. A few are covered but wish more had been.
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on June 12, 2011
I really don't have a lot to add to the reviews already written, as they have pretty much summed it up. If you like the show (and I've watched it since the very first episode), you'll find the book very interesting. The best thing is that it lets you see Old Man, Rick, Corey and Chumlee as real people instead of just characters on a reality show. It also shows you that this family didn't have their current success handed to them, but came by it only after many years of struggle and hard work.

Someone previously mentioned feeling sorry for the Old Man for not being able to work the counter anymore. The reason none of the four Pawn Stars can work the counter any longer is because by law, a pawn is private transaction. Nowadays, with the shop packed all day with tourists with cameras and video recorders trying to get photos of the four guys, the privacy of any transaction they're involved in is compromised.

It's been a year since I visited the shop on a jaunt to Las Vegas. Just to give you an idea of the impact the TV show has had on this small business, a good part of the shop is now dedicated to souvenir sales - T-shirts, shot glasses, bobble heads, refrigerator magnets, etc. (they move all that stuff out when filming in that part of the store). Before the show started, they had 12 employees. Now they have 47. I dropped by mid-morning and the parking lot was about full (but I did get a space). I was able to walk right in, though the store was packed full of people and it's not very big. I drove by later in the day and there was a line of people down the sidewalk waiting to get in. In the book, Rick relates that they now have security outside that lets in 60 people at a time and they've also installed misters outside to cool down the people waiting in line. When I was there, the Old Man was sitting at his desk behind the counter and they had that area roped off with a sign that said something to the effect that you weren't supposed to enter that area unless you were doing business with the shop. I kind of felt sorry for him, as he was kind of like an animal in a zoo, with everyone staring at him. A couple of people waved at him to get his attention and asked if they could get photos with him. He eventually came out on the floor to do photos. He didn't look like he was having fun (but even on the TV show, he never looks like he's having fun - even when he is! LOL). Now that they've built new offices in the back, my guess is that you would be lucky to see any of the four stars if you were to drop by these days. I'm sure they stay in the back as much as possible as it would be next to impossible to get any work done out front with the hoards of fans constantly bugging them.

Rick's put together a really entertaining companion for the TV show. As previously stated, if you like the TV show, then the book is highly recommended.
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on September 27, 2011
Books by overnight celebrities tend either to be ghostwritten or they are sent to market so quickly that something gets lost in the process. This book falls into the latter camp.

Rick Harrison's book (which also features a chapter each by Old Man, Chumlee, and Big Hoss) definitely seems that it was written by them, or at least dictated to someone more suitable to writing the book, as it's true to their voice. It's a genuine, no-holds-barred look inside their story, but it seems that the goal of this idea was more to get the book on shelves than paint a pretty picture of their pawn shop's story.

Don't get me wrong -- there is a lot of interesting detail on their humble beginnings (including three of the four guys' struggles with illegal drugs). You'll also realize how hard they worked to get where they are today. Rick definitely deserves all the success he's achieved; he has more than earned it.

With all that being said, the book could have been pieced together more smoothly, and even copyedited more tightly. In truth, it doesn't seem like Rick and his team worked with a good editor at all, except perhaps to correct typos their manuscripts may have contained. It was so bad at parts that I wanted to find a red marker and annotate my suggestions. And I'm not even an editor!

Even with these flaws, it's a quick and enjoyable read if you're a fan of the show or if you're curious about the real side of the pawn business (the not-so-glamorous existence that you don't see on TV.) Some of the crazy anecdotes Rick shares and the quirky characters he describes are alone worth the money.
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on October 12, 2011
"License to Pawn" strikes me as a well-written and interesting book. It is worth reading. I finished it the same day I got a copy! Tim Keown's work (he's a co-author)likely made the difference between it being a ramble and a book that follows a path through a fascinating chunk of information.

The first three chapters lay down background material that helps to give later chapters more context. Rick Harrison's description of living with epilepsy gives the book quite a starting impact; it is a nightmare to live with grand mal seizures. How he came to grips with the condition and begins to mature is a story in itself. The following two chapters bring the reader to Las Vegas where the Harrison family made its own opportunity.

The fourth chapter begins to give a taste of what it is like to run a pawn shop - in of all places Las Vegas. The chapter starts off by pointing out a rather hard fact about the American economy - that perhaps 25% of the nation uses pawn shops as part of their money management. That's a bit sad when we contrast that with stock fund managers who are essentially given extremely large salaries and bonuses to gamble with other people's money. Perhaps the hard-working Hispanic guy Rick mentions would make a better money market manager than most fund managers. Anyway, in this chapter the descriptions give good background stories and remind the reader that there is a lot of common-sense psychology going on at the World Famous Gold and Silver Pawn Shop.

The fifth chapter appears to have been dictated by the senior Harrison, Richard, or "The Old Man". It is almost as if Tim Keown had to argue every change in that chapter's narrative. Then, the chapter does ring authentic and seems consistent with the image projected by Harrison senior on the TV program. One has to hand it to Richard Harrison; he's paid his dues, the chapter moves right along and he makes some pithy comments that pull no punches.

Chapters six, seven and eight are in Rick Harrison's words. There is a lot of common sense information and descriptions of his experiences in the pawn shop. Obviously, he is, even without a formal education, better read and more intelligent that quite a few people in America. While he does compliment himself on his abilities he is sensible enough to acknowledge that he's done his share of screw-ups. In acknowledging that his errors have cost money he makes the point that one can learn from one's own mistakes. The later mention of giving son Corey Harrison a break when he made an expensive error not long after starting at the pawn shop help to show that Rick tries to have balance.

The ninth chapter is by Corey Harrison, the third generation in the family business. Corey openly admits that he was quite partial to amphetamine and related drugs such as methamphetamine. His description of what he went through and how he stopped using is good information. Maybe it will help someone to stop some day. Someone thinking about quitting tobacco could also be inspired by his "bite the bullet" approach to quitting an addiction. Later in the chapter Corey describes getting into the family business and some of his impression as to what that experience is like. The chapter moves along and is entertaining. It may be that Corey was more comfortable with Tim Keown's advice than was his grandfather.

Skipping ahead, the twelfth chapter is by Austin "Chumlee" Russell. It's a good read. Not a lot of people are as open about being raised by a parent who followed the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. It is interesting that he makes no mention of contact with Al-Anon, an organization for family members. I'm left wondering if there isn't more which can be said. Probably the strongest message the chapter had for me is the message of accepting life and being honest with oneself. His perspective of the show and the pawn industry come from a different angle which helps to build the picture painted by the book. Good work Austin!

Chapters ten, eleven, thirteen and fourteen are from Rick Harrison's perspective and continue to fill out the picture of what it is like to run a pawn shop and to have it become a reality TV show. As an aside, what will it be like when the show goes off the air? Will syndication be enough to sustain the high tempo or will fickle American move on to another fad? Hopefully we won't know for a long time.

I have to admit that I started this book with a bit of apprehension. Some of the Amazon reviews are a bit critical. I don't agree. As stated in the opening paragraph, the book was interesting enough to cause me to read it in one day. The copy of "License to Pawn" I accessed may be the only copy in the country of Sweden where I live. Hopefully other copies will appear as the ice has been broken. There is a good chance of that as I got the book from my local library. The contrarian in me decided to ask it to buy a copy. They declined and when I persisted they decided to ask a regional public library here in Sweden to buy a copy. Getting one copy will possibly encourage the purchase of others - that's the way things work here. Besides, Swedes have a strong interest in American culture and try to stop in Vegas if they get to the West Coast. Maybe some will come across a copy in their library or see the one in the national library catalog and ask their library to get a copy or decide to order a copy through a bookstore. So Rick, would you consider letting me know if Swedes stop by and say they visited you because they found a copy of your book in their library or bookstore? It would be fun to know. In time maybe you'll be invited for a book signing.

In sum, read the book. It is a good take on humanity and human psychology. While the book isn't likely to win Nobel or Pulitzer - you won't be disappointed.
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on June 8, 2011
I felt like I knew a lot about the show and all of the guys on it before reading this book, but I soon realized there was a lot I didn't know. The book provides lots of background information on the shop and the show and I especially liked the chapters written by the Old Man, Corey, and Chumlee. I had no idea how hard Rick worked to get the shop started with his dad, and the crazy stuff Corey and Chum got into as kids. It was definitely an interesting read and I was in no way disappointed with any of it.
The pictures with Rick still having hair were great too.
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on June 24, 2011
Overall, the book provides a great backstory for the growth and development of both the pawn shop itself, and the show's main characters (Rick, Old Man, Corey, Chum). If you're a fan of the show and want to learn a lot more about how things came to being, then this is the book for you. Its funny at times and is an easy read. Some moments from the show are mentioned in the book -- but you don't necessarily need to have watched the show to be able to understand the book. So if you're just interested in the inner workings of a pawn shop (and have never seen the show) it's still a good read. The only things that are somewhat bothersome are:

1. The book switches "narrators" between Rick, Corey, Chumley a few times -- and the switch points seem a bit arbitrary.
2. The chapters are very disjointed, after the first few intro chapters, the chapters hardly flow together at all.
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on June 8, 2011
Read through in just over 24 hours. My only complaint is I wish it was a longer book and more detailed. Rick touches on a lot of the family history, didnt know Cory had two younger brothers!! Also didnt know that the family relocated to LV after the realty businesss went belly up in San Diego. If you like Rick, you will like him much more after reading this, makes you want to go grab a beer with him. The book is great, Rick is a fascinating guy and the family worked hard to get where they are at. I was left feeling a bit sorry for the Old Man though, he seems a bit left in the dust. He has essentially lost his ability to work his own shop due to the fame Pawn Stars has brought on and now has to pretty much hide in his office all day. Rick is a very driven and inspiring guy, I guess you gotta be to make it in Sin City!!
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on August 10, 2011
I thought this book was entertaining. I don't know if Rick had a ghost writer but if he did, the writer did a good job of recreating his "voice" for the book...Rick admits to his "gift of gab" and fortunately for us, it's interesting gab. I felt the that chapters by Old Man and Chumlee were more likely ghost written...they just sounded a bit false at times. Corey's chapter was very enlightening, especially regarding his history of meth use and how he got off it. The book mainly however is for Pawn Stars fans, and does give an interesting history of how the show came about, and some misfires before it became a hit.
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