An Unconventional History
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From well-heeled mobsters and glamorous showgirls,
fantastical mega-casinos and dazzling displays of neon, Las
Vegas is the world’s most famous monument to reckless
abandon and unbridled excess.
Written in conjunction with the PBS American Experience
series and coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the
founding of the city, Las Vegas: An Unconventional History
documents the often surprising and endlessly entertaining
history of America’s most outrageous playground. The story
ranges from the Mormon missionaries who came to the area
for the natural springs, to the shady, mob-connected
gamblers and cardsharps who built and ruled the city, from
the eccentric and visionary millionaires who bought up
casinos like penny candy, to the visitors who have flocked
to this desert mecca for more than a century.
Accompanying the text are essays by four of today’s most
prominent writers: Dave Hickey’s ruminations on Vegas’s
unique brand of freedom and democracy, Marc Cooper’s
reminiscence of a wild night playing blackjack at the
Stardust—with his mother, Max Rudin’s meditations on the
roots of Rat Pack cool, and Jim McManus’s musings on the
art and little-known history of poker.
With lavish illustrations and lively prose, Las Vegas: An
Unconventional History is as surprising as an inside
straight and as satisfying as hitting 7 or 11 on your come-
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