Book reviews by D.G. Kaye
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Sunday Book Review – Vegas and the Mob – Forty Years of Frenzy

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.”

 

 

 

 

Blurb:

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.

©DGKaye

 

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D.G. Kaye is a nonfiction/memoir writer, who writes from her own life experiences and self-medicates with a daily dose of humor.

26 Comments

    • dgkaye

      Oh yay Pete. Then I highly recommend this one. My step-son-in-law was reading it while they were visiting us in Mexico. As soon as I saw what he was reading we had many hilarious conversations. So glad he passed it on to me. No doubts you’ll enjoy. Let me know what you think if you read it. 🙂

  • sally cronin

    I guess we must have gone to Vegas three times from 85 to 87, particularly for conventions for work and it was amazing. I know that you felt it had lost its glitter and some of our other friends have stopped going there because it had become OTT and expensive. But I can imagine this book lifting the lid on the early days is compelling reading..thanks for the review Debby ♥

    • dgkaye

      Oh it sure was compelling reading Sal. Glitz and glamor was all that mattered nobody really things about ‘those behind the curtain’. 🙂 <3 xx

  • Adele Marie Park

    I love anything to do with the mob and reading about the history so this book will be excellent, thanks, sis. <3

    • dgkaye

      Hi Vanessa. Thanks so much for popping over and for the follow, and your lovely compliment. I love color, so I incorporate wherever I can. 🙂

  • Robbie Cheadle

    This sounds so interesting, Debby. I am currently reading a book about the ancient Aztec civilization in South America. I like historical fiction.

  • Stevie Turner

    I’ve always been interested in this subject too – my favourite film is The Godfather. How uncanny there’s yet another thing we have in common! The book sounds great.

  • Olga Núñez Miret

    Thanks for the recommendation, Debby. Although I’ve never been interested in gambling and found Las Vegas, as Debby said, OTT, I’ve always been fascinated by mob and mafia true stories and I’ve read some of them, and this one sounds like a hit. Keep well, Debby!

    • dgkaye

      Thanks Olga. Yes, like I mentioned, this book isn’t for everyone. But if you love mobster history, no doubt this is a great book. 🙂 Stay safe! <3

  • John Maberry

    Well, can’t say I’m inclined to go there, but it’s good to know that there’s a good nonfiction resource on the subject. I have not been a fan of the many movies and TV shows that glorify the mob. I understood that the historical deficit of FBI attention was due to Hoover’s belief that there was no such thing as organized crime. Maybe he just didn’t care. Reportedly, America’s Prohibition Law gave it all a great start and then Hoover’s perspective let it REALLY go.

  • Liesbet

    As a poker player, memoirist, and entertainment and suspense-lover, you could not NOT like this book, Debby! 🙂 They could have done a better job with the blurb in my opinion, but it does sound like an interesting and intriguing book. That being said, I think I’d rather watch the story (and history) as a double-feature movie.

    • dgkaye

      Lol, did you mean, how could I not love it? Agreed the blurb could be juicier, I think I’ve done it more favor with my review! 🙂 And yes, some people much prefer the movies. 🙂

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