Takes a look at the life, death, and rebirth of the Las Vegas Strip, especially the new super casinos, how they run, and who runs them. Traces the checkered history of Las Vegas, and reveals the real stories of well-known power brokers like Steve Wynn, Vegas legends like Howard Hughes, and the rise and fall and rise again of the entrepreneurs behind Circus Circus, one of the largest gaming corporations in the nation. Includes b&w photos. Early is a former reporter for , and author of several books. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR
For a portrait of razzle-dazzle Las Vegas, this is a curiously sober book. Earley, an Edgar and Robert F. Kennedy Award winner (Circumstantial Evidence), gained the cooperation of Circus Circus Enterprises, owners of the new pyramid-shaped Luxor super casino, to write an awkward hybrid of a work: part business history, part vignettes of life in Las Vegas. The first segment, more than one third of the book, tells the history of Circus Circus. It's a solid account of the rise of corporate casinos by Earley, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, but as Vegas tales go, there's nothing hugely dramatic in the Circus Circus story. The book's sprightlier but diffuse second part describes episodes inside the Luxor and the individual characters who populate it: a casino boss, a showgirl, a security guard, etc. Earley showcases some unflattering scenes, such as a security guard's beating of a homeless man, and picks up some only-in-Vegas anecdotes, like the many ways casino dealers have tried to hide stolen chips (e.g., in a brassiere). But only one of these characters is compelling: a young prostitute who opens up to the author to a remarkable degree; surviving the Las Vegas jungle, she trains as a blackjack dealer and ultimately leaves town. Earley does not comment directly on the broader moral issues of gambling: halfway through the book, he quotes a cabbie who says the city is based on greed, but near the end, he cites a Luxor manager who asserts that it's a place "where people come to forget their problems." Andres Martinez's 24/7 (Forecasts, Oct. 25) goes further in conveying the manic energy of Las Vegas, but the city still awaits a stylish chronicler who can fully capture its uniqueness. (Jan.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.