"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.
One day it just came to me: no one had written a book about Jay Sarno, who seemed to be one of the most colorful characters in Las Vegas history. After all, he'd built Caesars Palace and Circus Circus, two casinos that defined Las Vegas in different ways for more than a generation. So why not write about him?
I was started asking questions and finding people to interview, and discovered that Jay was a more interesting subject than I could have imagined. From his business partnerships with Jimmy Hoffa, Doris Day, and Kirk Kerkorian to his uncontrolled gambling and womanizing, this was a man who did everything in excess.
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.
I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it.