My Sunday Book Review for Vegas and the Mob – 40 Years of Frenzy. This book may not be on everyone’s reading list, but if you’re interested in factual information on the beginning of evolution of Sin City – Las Vegas when it was run by mobsters, you will enjoy this book. I’ve always had a deep fascination with mobster memoir, and this is a fascinating read about how much the mob controlled many things beyond Las Vegas. As the blurb states: “His Best Selling work, “Vegas and the Mob” started with nearly 600 pages of FBI documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. Specific details and incidents were also verified by old-time gamblers and casinos owners from the era.”
Las Vegas was the Mob’s greatest venture and most spectacular success, and through 40 years of frenzy, murder, deceit, scams, and skimming, the FBI listened on phone taps and did virtually nothing to stop the fun. This is the truth about the Mob’s history of control of the casinos in Vegas like you’ve never heard it before, from start to finish. Las Vegas history has never been so fascinating!
“Vegas and the Mob” tells the story of how the Mob began in the 1920’s, how Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky became partners, and how Las Vegas fell to the Mob after two of the nation’s most powerful crime family bosses went to prison in the 1930’s: Al Capone, and Lucky Luciano. Frank Nitti took over the Chicago Outfit, while Frank Costello ran things for the Luciano Family. Both men were influenced by their bosses from prison, and both sent enough gangsters into the streets to influence loan sharking, extortion, union control, and drug sales.
Bugsy Siegel worked for both groups, handling a string of murders and opening up gaming on the west coast, and that included Las Vegas, an oasis of sin in the middle of the desert – and it was legal. Most of it. The FBI watched as the Mob took control of casino after casino, killed off the competition, and stole enough money to bribe their way to respectability back home.
By the 1950’s, nearly every major crime family had a stake in a Las Vegas casino. Some did better than others. Casino owners watched over their profits while competing crime families eyed each other’s success like jealous lovers. Murder often followed.
But that’s not the end of the story! The FBI finally started cracking down on the Mob and casino skim in the 1960’s, and even with car bombings, murder and arson, it was twenty more years before the government was able to say the Mob was out – in the 1980’s. This book tells the whole story!
My 5 Star Review:
Like the last line of the blurb states “This book tells the whole story!” And it surely does chronicle all the players, who they were, and what they did to each other to maintain status and territory. As a nonfiction writer and reader, I gravitate to true event stories and their history, and this book does a great job of covering the span of mob corruption from the 1920s to the creation of Las Vegas. The author has done a great job with bringing in so many characters in one book with great character analysis without overwhelming the reader with character confusion. Some may even find humor in some the nicknames earned for the criminals.
Mobsters galore, territorial warfare, and Las Vegas – the perfect spot to siphon and launder money, this book tells all. Even some of the players weren’t exempt from punishment if they became a little to mouthy or complained. It would take nothing for a Pit Boss to signal a bartender to make a ‘special drink’ for such players. No law required those days in the casinos. Mob ruled.
The construction of Las Vegas was a desert allure built to entice players from around the globe with each casino trying to outdo or out-theme the next with Hollywood entertainment, nice accommodations and plenty of freebies to entice. This book will take you to the beginnings of the gambling mecca from the dirt floored downtown casinos to the construction and millions of dollars injected into the casino empires, which changed ownership frequently as every new crime group bought up interest, or for some, outright took over.
Learn about how Bugsy Seigel took advantage of Billy Wilkerson’s bad gambling habit and started the famed Flamingo hotel, which turned out to be the beginning of one of the biggest money-making skimming scheme in America with no oversight as the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover ‘looked away’ and let it continue because of the goods the mob had on him. So many ‘hands in the pots’ had all finally come down to law and order by the 1970s with a ‘legal’ gaming commission.
This book is a treasure trove of information for all mobster buffs and those curious like me who can’t get enough of this sensational era.