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In The Desert Of Desire: Las Vegas And The Culture Of Spectacle Hardcover – August 19, 2005

4.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"As I tagged along on his zigzagging explorations... I felt the exhilarated giddiness of one of those long, winding nocturnal rambles through the Strip itself."

"In the Desert of Desire is a remarkable book. It deserves a wide readership, especially among students and scholars concerned with tourism, spectacle, and the American West. It should be required reading for those concerned with Las Vegas." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

"As I tagged along on his zigzagging explorations of Steve Wynn's $300-million art collection, the local public art museum, the Guggenheim-Hermitage gallery inside Adelson's Venetian, through the Mirage's "dolphin habitat," out to the bare-bones Vegas public zoo and then into Cirque du Soleil's steamy stage production of "Zumanity," I felt the exhilarated giddiness of one of those long, winding nocturnal rambles through the Strip itself.... 'What's being sold?' Fox asks in his preface. He provides several answers, foremost among them 'spectacle' on a scale never before seen in history. 'You can order up whatever spectacle you can afford, a pay-as-you-play paradise,' he writes. 'Las Vegas enables you not only to gaze upon spectacle but also to sleep in its bed and have sex with it.'" --Marc Cooper, Los Angeles Times Book Review, 14 November 2005

"In a nutshell, Fox says what happens here doesn't necessarily stay here." --Ken White, Las Vegas Review-Journal

"It is an interesting and fascinating examination of the role Vegas continues to play in culture as well as an interesting travel guide with a definite point of view." --Salt Lake Tribune

"...a remarkable book. It deserves a wide readership, especially among students and scholars concerned with tourism, spectacle, and the American West. It should be required reading for those concerned with Las Vegas." --C. Richard King, Journal of the West --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: University of Nevada Press (August 19, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0874175631
  • ISBN-13: 978-0874175639
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,099,376 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Delite Rancher VINE VOICE on December 2, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In "the Desert of Desire," William L. Fox explores one of the most unique cities in America. Make no mistake; this isn't another historical overview. Given the author, the reader already knows that it will be unlike any other work on the subject. The book examines the question, what has and continues to make Las Vegas such a popular world destination? In short, the city creates spectacle that carefully responds to the desires of the day. The author uses an odd assortment of themes to elaborate this point. Case studies are offered in art and architecture, menageries and zoos, dance and sex. One of the author's main observations is how there is a blur between the public and private spheres in Las Vegas. To illustrate this point, the book spends a good portion of energy on the art world. In most cities, art is a public endeavor while for Las Vegas it is usually a casino led enterprise. "In the Desert of Desire" paints a detailed and accurate recreation of what it's like to visit both Sin City's main art galleries and Los Angeles' Getty Center. More over, aquariums and zoos are usually a public endeavor for most cities. Again, Shark Reef and Siegfried and Roy's Secret Garden root these experiences in the private domain. Libertarianism offers an explanation for the city and state's curious blending of public and private sectors. The dance section is not only an interesting examination of the history of ballet, but a look at the curious exchange between Las Vegas' exotic and ballet dancers. The book is a tad dated in that spectacles like the Springs Preserve, Zumanity and City Center were still being developed when the book went to print. In the end, such developments don't significantly change the main points of the work. Outside of this, William L.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Let me say that I really did like this book. It's a really interesting way to look at Vegas. What disappointed me, however, was that I thought the author was going to spend an equal amount of time on the subjects he laid out at the beginning: art, zoos and dancing. I feel like 90% of the book talked about art, and then the other two topics were just thrown in there at the end. It almost felt like the book was meant to be longer, but the author ran out of time. Overall, I would definitely recommend it, especially to people who are highly interested in art. (I, myself, am not, so I did find it boring at times).
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Format: Paperback
Las Vegas is a unique city in the history of the world in that it was founded by those seeking escape, and exists as a place for those seeking to escape. The latter has created a city built on catering to the desires of other people, which is the topic of this short book. Whether it be gambling, shows, sex, or exotic animals, no other city in human history has so excelled at providing entertainment of so many forms and types in one place at one time. The book examines the different spectacles offered by Las Vegas, with a close eye on the appropriate history, business aspects, and ironies. Each chapter focuses on one specific spectacle; such as art, wildlife, and dance shows. In each, the author traces the development of that spectacle from its origins in Western history to its growth in American culture, and final establishment in Vegas. For each, the author also shows how private and public actors interact to create the final product seen by tourists. All in all, a very interesting and good work. This reviewer has visited Las Vegas twice, and after reading this book, I more fully understand it now and appreciate when went into creating it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Real Fake & Fake Real: Thinking About Las Vegas

I was intrigued to discover that the post office made a mistake with the most recent Statue of Liberty stamps. Instead of the Lady Liberty who stands in New York Harbor, they mistakenly replicated the fake Statue of Liberty from the Las Vegas casino New York New York.
What is real? After 9/11, people left tons of flowers and offerings at the casino, as if it were not just a Hollywood style representation but a magical link to the real Big Apple.
William L. Fox writes, in his book about Vegas IN THE DESERT OF DESIRE, "The Hanging Gardens (of Babylon) were the world's first known theme park-that is, an attraction meant to distract people from reality by representing in miniature another environment for them to enter."
No wonder I like things like the Taj Mahal built out of sugar cubes. Or a snow globe of southern Florida with flamingos. Or white confetti falling on the tiny Manhattan skyline.

***
For more reviews by this author, see Miriam's Well ([...])
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