Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Quiet Kingmaker of Las Vegas: E. Parry Thomas Hardcover – June 1, 2009
Find Rare and Collectible Books
Discover rare, signed and first edition books on AbeBooks, an Amazon Company. Learn More on AbeBooks.com.
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
About the Author
Jack Sheehan has written 15 books, including [i]Buried Lies[/i], [i]Skin City[/i], [i]Golf Forever[/i], and [i]Class of '47: Annapolis' Best[/i]. He has also written and sold screenplays, and co-hosted and produced a TV series, [i]True Vegas[/i]. Sheehan won the Lowell Thomas award for outstanding travel article, the Nevada Screenwriters Award and was named outstanding feature writer in the West.
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
There's still a city there, and it probably has a casino industry, but it's going to look much different, and probably not for the better. That's the impact that Thomas had.
Onto the book itself: it's not a biography in the usual sense, but rather a combination autobiography and oral history. Basically, Thomas talks about his life, and friends, family members, and business associates chime in. Sheehan, as an author, yields the spotlight to Thomas and the others. It's hard to imagine that there was a better way to do this book. Thomas, like Steve Wynn, is a master storyteller, with a keen recall and an eye for detail that will gratify the reader.
There is introductory material about Thomas' youth and young adulthood in Utah, and closing material on Thomas' family life, but most of this book is a personal history of Las Vegas 1955-1995 or so, as told by Thomas with others adding their perspective when appropriate. As such, it might be one of the most important books about Las Vegas history that you'll ever read. Thomas sets the record straight on many fronts and is candid about his battles with the IRS and his dealings with alleged organized crime figures.
Without Thomas, Las Vegas as we know it would not exist. It's fortunate that he was persuaded to share the story of his life and career, both so that his contributions are not forgotten and so that students of history have a better idea of what really went on in Las Vegas as it grew into prominence.
This book is the book that people who watch the Las Vegas channel, I mean, The Travel Channel, need to read. There are amazing stories in here of very famous names and many not so famous names, coming together to create this unlikely city in the desert; and behind an incredible number of those deals, was banker and investor Parry Thomas.
Thomas started coming to Las Vegas in 1952, and moved there with his family soon after. He was an incredibly hard working visionary who saw the potential of Las Vegas in ways that few others did. With hard work, a brilliant mind and a wonderful way with people, he made changes in Las Vegas (and Nevada) that helped make the city what it is today.
He is very clear that the only reasons he's telling these stories now are because most of the people involved are dead, and for the city's historical record. Thomas mentions several times that he prized confidentiality for his clients above all else, and one can still sense reticence behind his words. We're getting more of the story than has ever been told, but probably not all of it. Which is fine...some secrets need to stay in those dark, smoke filled back rooms. No one wants all of Vegas in the light...
Thomas, from all the accounts given by the names in this book such as Steve and Elaine Wynn, Bill Boyd and Michael Milken (to name only a few), was a wonderful, trusting and honest man. He cared deeply about doing the right thing by all parties of a deal, and his handshake meant more than a signed contract. And yet - there are unspoken stories in this book that remind the reader that we are talking about doing business in Las Vegas...which means something different than doing business anywhere else.
Thomas tells this story about a restaurateur to whom he refused a loan: "...the guy eventually got so mad he took out newspaper ads criticizing me and he passed out flyers all through my neighborhood and downtown criticizing me and saying that I was a bad banker and a bad person. I had to figure out a way to shut him up, and so I called this little guy who worked at the Sands. His name was Aaron Weisberg. He was a wonderful fellow. I knew that Aaron had a lot of clout with some important tough guys, so I asked Aaron if he could do anything about this guy who was threatening me. All the hassling just stopped cold the next day."
Thomas also had quite a few dealings with Howard Hughes, which make for fascinating reading. "...In sum, that's exactly how the richest man in America was allowed to stay in a hotel owned by the biggest gamblers in America, by the most outstanding lawyer in Washington agreeing to write a brief for the most notorious labor leader in the country. Now there's a four-way parlay for you."
The author, Sheehan, uses a very deft touch bringing Thomas's voice to the forefront of all of the stories. He then brings in many, many of the other players in the deals to corroborate or further clarify details. The timeline of the stories flow well, taking the reader from the early fifties in Vegas to modern day. (Although Parry Thomas now lives in Hailey, Idaho, "just one state removed from Nevada, (but) if a person were to measure the distance by electrical wattage and human energy, this farming community of 6,000 full time residents is more than a million miles away from the blinding glow of Las Vegas at night.")
Parry Thomas seems to be a humble man, not looking for the spotlight even given his success and the influence he's had over one of the major cities in America. (Which is probably why I, and hundreds of thousands of the visitors to Vegas have never heard his name.) But there is one accomplishment of his in this book that bears the distinct stamp of pride, and it might be the biggest part of what Vegas is today. "I'm the guy that got the Mob out of Las Vegas, with getting the legislation passed to have corporate gaming and putting in the safeguards such as anybody with over five percent interest in the place having to stand for licensing. It didn't say you had to be licensed, just that you had to stand for it and be investigated for it and so on. And the thing that got the Mob out quicker than anything else was that passing that law, because before that the corporations couldn't come in. If I'm insistent about taking the credit for that, it's because I did it all by myself and it took years of hard work and negotiating with the Legislature to make it happen."
This is a great book, one that tells previously unknown stories, one that explains the behind the scenes details of the making of Las Vegas, but stays true to the Vegas we all imagine it was. It has the best of what is Vegas: the money, the names, the danger and the excitement.
"One thing I'd learned about guys like Moe is that you never lie or evade anything. I said, "Moe, you're absolutely right. I did figure it out for your best interests. I'm going to have Howard Hughes buy this hotel. You're trying to sell it and I'm going to get you a fair price." Moe sat there for several long minutes without saying a word. He then stood up and turned around and pointed his finger in my chest and said, "You better!" And he stormed off."
That's power. That's the story of a quiet kingmaker.