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The Money and the Power: The Making of Las Vegas and Its Hold on America Paperback – March 12, 2002

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 516 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (March 12, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375701265
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375701269
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #145,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

"There is no place like it. It is literally a beacon of Civilization.... Only Mecca inspires as many pilgrims." So write Sally Denton and Roger Morris about Las Vegas, Nevada, which emerged in the last years of the 20th century as America's fastest-growing city, and in the process, a family-entertainment and cultural center. But underlying that Las Vegas--and underlying the authors' fine narrative--is an older, decidedly less friendly city, one shaped by an "alliance of gamblers, gangsters, and government" to cater to every kind of human weakness. This Las Vegas, populated by notorious criminals, dangerous eccentrics, and ambitious empire-builders, exercised an extraordinary influence on the nation's politics and economy. Few presidents elected in the last century did not come calling on the desert city to secure funds and favors, even as Las Vegas's thriving economy came under the control of a handful of powerful men.

Full of strange episodes and characters, the history of Las Vegas is too little known. Denton and Morris's revisionist, past-as-prologue look at how Las Vegas came to be is a startling, original work that adds much to our understanding of recent American history. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

This ambitious, jolting investigative history simultaneously explores the "secret history" of Las Vegas malfeasance and the expansion of the city's ethos of greed and artifice into a wholesale American model. Married co-authors Denton (The Bluegrass Conspiracy) and Morris (Partners in Power) offer an expansive, finely detailed, slightly convoluted cultural narrative, beginning with concise biographies of key figures (mobsters Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel, news tycoon Hank Greenspun, anti-crime-crusading Senator Estes Kefauver). Failed 1950s reform movements allowed for the ascendance of organized crime, fortified by huge "skim" profits from casinos. Operation Underworld, a WWII collaboration between government and "Syndicate" forces, forged extensive relationships between federal agencies, corrupted police and gangsters that proved central to Las Vegas's economic boom. The profits radiated corruption outward, evinced in such "blowback" as repeated CIA-Mob assassination attempts on Castro. Formidable researchers, Denton and Morris train gimlet eyes on compromised officials like J. Edgar Hoover, gambling tycoons like Benny Binion and killers-cum-businessmen like Sam Giancana. They look into the growth of more malignant, polyethnic (and, they claim) CIA-supported organized crime facilitated by stereotyping of the Italian Mafia. Although their conflation of glitzy Vegas profligacy with corporate politics and consumerism may seem unwieldy, the book is undeniably disturbing and engrossing. It concludes with the 1999 mayoral election of Oscar Goodman, notorious Syndicate attorney, which was an augury of business as usual in what the authors portray as democracy's spiritual capital. 16 pages of b&w photos. (Mar. 26)Forecast: With the authors' good reputations, the first printing of 75,000 copies, the nine-city tour (including a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette author luncheon), the unending fascination with Las Vegas-style debauchery and the Mafia, and certain media interest, this book can expect a big audience.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

I read this book after my first visit to Las Vegas.
Knox Bronson
This is an excellent book, well written and documented, but be prepared for lots of nausea while reading it.
H. Duane Dunson
Sometimes too much information detracts and for me that was the case here.
R. Spell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 8, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book should be categorized as American History instead of being assigned to the social niche of Las Vegas gangster lore. The implied dynamic between uniquely American styles of Good and Evil is expressed in Miltonian terms, where Evil is more than simple badness, it also is endlessly energizing and fascinating. Denton and Morris propose what few Americans would willingly admit. The Mobs and sub Mobs in this country are not a thing apart, but very much part and parcel of who we are. The suggestion is here that we must grow past the _light on the hill_ fantasy of American purity and exceptionalism and accept the harsh truths of the real America without flinching. The secondary suggestion I think Denton and Morris put foreward is that America has operated in an atmosphere of denial. The psychology of denial was one of the consequences of the cold war era, when overt criticism of the American system was judged as seditious or unpatriotic. The Las Vegas mechanism was, as the authors illustrate, connected to the McCarthy period, red scares, xenophobia, atomic testing ( guests in Vegas hotels paid premium to have views of the desert bomb tests )in a morbid symbiosis. The shadowy figure of Meyer Lansky haunts the entire scene as the mastermind who may have so effectively compromised J.Edgar Hoover that virtually none of the mob activities would be admitted to, much less prosecuted. This book is In Your Face history, not abstract chin stroking. Too controvesial for your average university, where it is the very book that ought to be assigned. You won't be able to get a complete handle on the American condition without taking The Money an The Power into consideration. If you can find it in the used section of your local bookstore, read Dark Victory : Ronald Reagan, MCA and the Mob by Dan E. Moldea too. The picture will begin to flesh out.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 15, 2001
Format: Hardcover
"Sixty years ago, Las Vegas was a gritty, wind-whipped crossroads of faded [houses of ill-repute] . . . and honky-tonks with stuttering neon." "It is a city in the middle of nowhere that is the world's most popular destination." The city is all about "diversion, entertainment, money, sex, escape, deliverance, another chance, a last chance, and another life for a few hours, days, forever." From these threads, the authors portray Las Vegas as the archetype of what America is becoming. Whoever has the money calls the tune, whether it be crooks, hustlers, businessmen or politicians. The person who controls the action "has the juice" and everyone dances to that person's tune. The basic story line is that Las Vegas has never seen money or people it didn't like. From Las Vegas, the authors tie the corruption centered there to the United States government, many foreign governments, Nevada government, and to many other institutions and facets of American life.
Although the book covers the last half century of Las Vegas, the book also deals with the roots of the town earlier. The real focus, however, is on the most wide-open gangster years in Las Vegas from the 1940s through the early 1960s. You will learn a lot about Meyer Lansky, Bugsy Siegel, Benny Binion, Senator Pat McCarran, and Hank Greenspun who were the major figures involved in the early development of Las Vegas. What may be news to you is how many "above-board" people were involved with gangsters. Most of them will be names you recognize, and some will be attached to people you admire (possibly like the Kennedys, Richard Nixon, or Lyndon Johnson).
Read more ›
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By AgFish on May 10, 2001
Format: Hardcover
For the younger generation of American and tourists of the world, Las Vegas is a city of glitz and extravagance; however, underneath all the light, noise and the make believe world of casino there lies a deeper truth.
"The Money and the Power" by the husband and wife team of Sally Denton and Roger Morris tells the story of the true Las Vegas that sprung up in the sands of southern Nevada after WWII.
The book tells the story of the important figures that shaped, started, bribed, killed, strong armed their way to start an empire that became the city of the 21st century.
The book encompassed such figures that we might have seen in movies that tried to portrait the lives, but this book does it much better and more colorful. People like Lansky, Bugsy, Wynn, Binion, Kennedy, Reagan, Clinton, the Mormon Church, Union members, etc.
This book is a must read ("I can't put it down", "up all night reading it", "Kept me on the edge of my seat", "So-and-So at their best", "Buy a copy now!", "Must have in your library", etc) not only for people who are fascinated by the city and its glitz. But also for the people who are interested in the history of southwestern United State, the Teamsters, politicians, and of course, the Mobsters (Syndicate) that started all this with the downtown casinos and progressed to the strip with its mega-billion dollar hotel/casino.
Thumbs up!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Thomas J. Fitzpatrick on January 22, 2006
Format: Paperback
Most Las Vegans hated this book. We are used to "exposes" written by journalists who fly in for a few weekends and then purport to deliver "the real truth" about what goes on in Vegas. Having lived here for twenty years, this book finally reveals what became apparent to me after the first five years of living here: Las Vegas and the casino industry have been influencing politics nationwide since at least the Kennedy administration and everyone comes here to drink deelply from the great river of cash which floats through this town. Why would every presidential candidate since Kennedy visit a State with so few electoral votes? There are copious references throughout the book and in the back for sources. It is well researched and packed with information. It will disappoint those looking exclusively for lurid scandals in tabloid writing styles which have characterized most other Las Vegas histories. The interactions between organized crime, intelligence agencies and political figures did not surprise me. Like it or not, Las Vegas is a major player in American politics and the only place in America where the back rooms are lit by neon. Say what you want about Vegas, but what goes on here is deeply tied to the fabric of American society by politicians who choose to participate. No one held a gun to their heads to sit down at the cash table.
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