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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
The Amazon Book Review
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--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
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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Top Customer Reviews
As a Las Vegas historian David's reason for writing the book was to draw attention to a turning point in the history of Las Vegas. Before Jay came to Vegas the book describes the "desert resort as suffering from a visual drought. All the casino’s looked more or less the same, like cheap western knock offs, dressing their dealers in vests and string ties."
Jay changed that forever, first with Caesar’s Palace in 1966; then in 1968 ,with Circus Circus Both had themes that ran through every detail of the casino, such as Caesars
with the Roman goddess waitresses in the high end Bacchanal Restaurant to the stationary in the rooms with burnt edges, singed when Rome burned or Circus Circus, with elephant shaped ashtrays in the lobby, a carousel out front as the casino’s signage and live circus acts performing right above the gambling pit. He took the experience of gambling to an entirely different level, raising the bar and changing Las Vegas to what it is today. As the other reviews point out Jay’s place in the history of the city is as great as other figures such as Bugsy Siegal, Steve Wynn, Kirk Kerkorian and of course Howard Hughes, but that for some reason they have received much greater recognition, at least outside Las Vegas itself.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Dr. Schwartz has written an amazing book about the life of Jay Sarno.
I feel like this book is for everyone. Read more
I stayed up until 2am last night to finish this book. I lived in Las Vegas in the 70's and 80's but didn't know much at all about Jay Sarno, one of the most influential characters... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Dan
I don't usually like biographies, but really got a kick out of this one. Just when I thought Jay Sarno couldn't anything more outrageous than what I had just read, in the next... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Jill G. Hall
Excellent read of history behind the man and his grand vision for Las Vegas.Published 5 months ago by Felix Lenox
Great read. Las Vegas is a fascinating place and this book delivers on so many levels. Highly recommend.Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
Really wonderfully written book on the life of Jay Sarno. If you're interested in Vegas at all or your like history and colorful characters, this is definitely a book for you.Published 7 months ago by Steven M. Newton
If you have been putting off getting this book or waiting to read it like I did, then stop and get this book. Dr. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Thomas J. Canale