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Grandissimo: The First Emperor of Las Vegas: How Jay Sarno Won a Casino Empire, Lost It, and Inspired Modern Las Vegas Paperback – October 3, 2013
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David G. Schwartz is our most gifted chronicler of Las Vegas history. Grandissimo is a riveting story not only of an eccentric and ambitious visionary but of Sin City at the crossroads.
--Beth Raymer, author of Lay the Favorite: A Memoir of Gambling
"A must-read for anyone who loves the real history of Las Vegas."
--John L. Smith, Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist and author
"This is a great book, one of the best about Las Vegas...Schwartz tells the real, unvarnished story of one of the genuine visionaries of Las Vegas"
--Oscar Goodman, former mayor of Las Vegas and Sarno's attorney
From the Author
This was a difficult and great book for me to write. After writing Roll the Bones, a comprehensive history of gambling, I wanted to do something smaller in scale that could let me really dig into a topic as opposed to skimming over several millennia and continents' worth of history.
I've learned that Jay Sarno was more than a casino builder; he was Las Vegas personified, and his life tells the story of that awkward transition in the 1970s and 1980s when the Strip was passing from the hands of old-school gamblers and hustlers to corporate types.
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Many say that Las Vegas was an overnight success but the truth is it took years for the city to evolve into what it is today. It took bold entrepreneurs like Jay Sarno to bring their ideas to the city and have the ability to make their dreams a reality. This book outlines so many of the things that needed to come together. Sarno was a man before his time who inspired so many entrepreneurs in the city. His themed hotels are why people picked up the travel section of the newspaper and desired to come to Las Vegas. Las Vegas became a fantasyland. An escape. And one of the top travel destinations.
My business partner worked at the end of the front desk at Circus Circus when the slogan "rooms available, if not we'll place you" was listed on the marquee. It was there that he learned the room reservation business. We would go on to build our own room reservations business and vacation packages business and eventually sell it to Expedia in 2000. Another one of my best friends worked in the carnival games section at the casino. It is where he got his first taste of Las Vegas. Sarno's vision touched the lives of many people that are shaping our world today.
This book is a must read if you want to dive into one of the great personalities that shaped the city of Las Vegas and the hospitality and gaming industry. He changed the industry, was an early pioneer, and inspired modern day casino and hospitality moguls like Steve Wynn.
Great job to David Schwartz for all the work that he put into this book. Order it today. You will enjoy it.
The pacing of the book is perfect. Schwartz's tale unfolds like a movie as we get to see every aspect of Jay Sarno, a larger than life man of incredible appetites.If you are interested in Las Vegas history, read this book before any others. I have read almost every book on the history of Nevada and it's many colorful characters and this is my favorite. Schwartz did an untold amount of research to get this story right and I thank the Sarno family for cooperating with him. This man's story had to be told, and Schwartz did it perfectly.
You will love Sarno, despise him, pity him, and admire him. But you won't forget him!
But, Jay Sarno is a larger-than-life character and he was known for taking up every room he entered, so it seems fair that he also takes over a book about his hotels.