- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Barricade Books; First Edition edition (August 4, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1569802742
- ISBN-13: 978-1569802748
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,479 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Sharks in the Desert Hardcover – August 4, 2005
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Top Customer Reviews
by Howard Schwartz
Online Casino Games
John Smith, one of Nevada's finest newspaper columnists and authors (the Bob Stupak bio, No Limit Stupak biography and the Steve Wynn bio, Running Scared among others) has penned one of the best biography-history combination books ever with Sharks in the Desert: The Founding Fathers and Current Kings of Las Vegas (400 pages, hardbound, $24.95). His book is a new arrival at Gambler's Book Club. It focuses on those folks who made big money in the casino business, or as the publisher (Lyle Stuart) puts it: "From the made men to the corporate tough guys -- they're all here. Things only appear to have changed. The corporate hard-asses have the same goal as the mobsters who preceded them: to make as much money as possible without regard to who gets destroyed in the progress."
How HAS Las Vegas changed since the early days? Who were the visionaries, the entrepreneurs, those who anticipated what it has become today? Also, what changed the perception of Las Vegas as an "outlaw city," to "a community that prospered because it remained intriguing and was able to constantly reinvent itself"?
From Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel, the Flamingo and El Rancho to the earliest days of the Frontier and Stardust, Smith takes us on a historic trip, focusing on the people, their dreams, what went right, what went wrong and how it all led to the Las Vegas we know today.
It's a journey down memory lane with a cast of characters -- some gunned down, others who became billionaires.Read more ›
Based on some of the anecdotes, it seems amazing that some of the Vegas hotels are still open today. The mobsters and the so called "straight laced" owners who ran (or still run) the hotels come off as either extremely brilliant or totally incompetent. It is no wonder that most of the Strip hotels have all been swallowed up by one or two companies. The author also seems to question if some hotels are completely honest when it comes to gaming.
The problem I had with the book was perhaps I was expecting something more chronological and dramatic. Instead, the book is like a compilation of old newpaper columns that are all put together in one place(of course, maybe that is not a surprise since the author is a newspaper reporter). Much like other books of that nature, the reading becomes almost repetitive and seems easier to take over a long haul rather than a week or two of reading cover to cover. Also note that there are a few typos and errors that make it seem like someone did a spellcheck with a computer rather than really proofreading it.
If you can stick with this type of book, you will probably enjoy it. Now this is the first book about Las Vegas I have read so I can not compare it to anything but I've got to believe there is probably something a bit more compelling.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The fact that Las Vegas is built on dreams and addictions is no sscret. But the author of this book, John L Smith makes the point that it is also built on myth. Read morePublished on July 5, 2013 by Pugwash
An outstanding book for those interested in the development of gambling in the United States. I am actually using this in a course I am teaching next semester on the history of... Read morePublished on October 19, 2010 by Robert J Ambrose
This man says that Benny Binion said the quote, I Do My Own Damn Killing on Dec. 25th 1989, the day of Benny's death. Read morePublished on February 4, 2010 by Johnny Hughes
John L. Smith once again sends packing the legions of wanna-be biographers of Las Vegas legends. Critical to the accuracy is the Author's own disposition as a native Las Vegan. Read morePublished on June 28, 2009 by Jonathan Warren
Everything you ever wanted to know about Vegas -- from the Mafia days to the current town. Well written and puts you there!!Published on August 31, 2008 by Charlene Fredman
I love Las Vegas; I am fascinated by the procession of hotels - each more interesting than its neighbor, in at least some way. Read morePublished on August 10, 2008 by Drewry F. Wofford III
This book gives you the real story behind the Vegas gaming legends. Nobody does justice to this topic like John L. Smith. His research is impeccable.Published on March 4, 2007 by Joe Huggins