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Literary Las Vegas: The Best Writing About America's Most Fabulous City Paperback – August 15, 1995

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks (August 15, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805036709
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805036701
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 5.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #115,833 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The essays and short stories in this collection reveal the glitz and history of a city that has gone from "mobster and starlet hideaway, to haven of sin and vice, to its present incarnation as low-roller heaven" and still remains the marriage capital of the U.S. As the editor notes, "Who else but Las Vegas would make the A-bomb a picnic? An honest-to-God picnic." Believe it or not, tourists would travel to a local hilltop, with lunches provided by the casinos, to view the test blasting of the atomic bombs. There is plenty of more fascinating reading for those who love, hate, or never even thought much about this city. There are tales of lounge lizards, millionaires, showgirls, gangsters, gamblers, and businessmen from writers such as Joan Didion, Noel Coward, Hunter S. Thompson, and A. J. Liebling. Denise Perry Donavin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"This paean to sin city is as celebrity filled, entertaining and weird as the real thing-and a lot cheaper. "-Publishers Weekly

"From the craps to the glitz to the cultural and economic pits, Literary Las Vegas deftly sums up the cheap, meretricious vulgarity of the town I love. "-Michael Musto

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Linda Linguvic HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
Seen through the eyes of some of America's best writers, these 26 pieces include a 1964 piece which Tom Wolf wrote for Esquire, an excerpt from Hunter S. Thompson's book, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas", a diary of Noel Coward's Las Vegas gig and a 1952 article from the New Yorker about atomic bomb testing when rooftop parties welcomed the flashes of light in the desert. There's a piece by John Gregory Dunne about the life of an obscure comedian, a piece by Joan Didion about the marriage chapel industry and lots of well written and interesting pieces about gambling and the changes that have occurred in Las Vegas right up to 1993.
My favorites pieces by far though were the personal recollections of two women who grew up there, both from very different backgrounds.
Susan Berman, growing up in the 1950s, is the daughter of the mobster Dave Berman. She describes how her father taught her math by giving her a slot machine to play with and the Sabbath meals that her grandmother used to prepare for her father's Jewish gangster friends.
Phyllis Barber also grew up during the same period of time and recalls how her family woke early one morning to drive out to see the atomic blasts and be part of history. Church-going religious Mormons, her mother disapproves when she joins the precision marching dance team at Las Vegas High School. Later she has to make a difficult choice between representing a casino in a parade and attending church on a Sunday afternoon.
I wished that some of these pieces could be longer. I would have liked to have delved deeper into some of the articles, especially these personal recollection pieces. But the tone of the book is a lot like Las Vegas itself. The lights keep flashing, the cards keep being dealt and the roulette wheel keeps spinning. All the reader can do sit back and enjoy!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Regi on April 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
Pretty decent read. Most of the writings reitereated the "Bugsy Siegel started Las Vegas" story and then went in different directions. I found the article/story on segregation in Las Vegas particularly interesting as Vegas is pretty diverse today and I for some reason thought Vegas being the rebel town that it is avoided the racial tensions of the 60's.

Each of the essays and stories reveal something you don't know about Vegas, but they also bring a sense of melancholy - Vegas isn't all giltter and glamour under the lights, even if you're a gangster's daughter, a comedian getting his big break, or a regular Joe.
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