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10 Must-Read Books About Las Vegas

Last updated: August 2, 2018 at 7:05 pm. Posted by in Celebrities, Gaming, Las Vegas Casinos, Things to Do in Las Vegas. Comments Off on 10 Must-Read Books About Las Vegas.

Las Vegas is a city where fact is stranger than fiction. Fantasies become real, larger than life characters exist and if the events that took place here didn’t actually happen, you would never believe them. It is a town straight from a storybook. Well, if that’s not actually true, then it is at least a town that is the perfect setting for books.

10 of our favorite books about Las Vegas

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

1. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

No book – or movie – list about Sin City is worth its salt if it does not include Hunter S. Thompson’s opus on the modern West. The true novel about Thompson’s adventures in Vegas follows Raoul Duke and his lawyer Dr. Gonzo as they traverse the desert under the guise of completing the copy for a photo essay on The Mint 400 for Sports Illustrated. Thompson and Mexican-American activist Oscar Zeta Acosta did a lot of drugs during this and the follow-up trip. What’s real? What’s not? Who cares? This is the story of a journey by one of America’s best writers – a physical and psychedelic journey.

Of Rats and Men by John L. Smith

2. Of Rats and Men: Oscar Goodman’s Life from the Mob Mouthpiece to Mayor of Las Vegas by John L. Smith

Nobody loves their job more than Oscar Goodman has adored his two professions. Only in Vegas, a city founded by mobsters and one that glorified them, could the Mob’s most famous attorney become “The World’s Happiest Mayor.” How did the man who represented Meyer Lansky, Tony Spilotro and Frank Rosenthal go on to help remake Downtown Las Vegas into hipster central? Take a deep dive into one of the unlikeliest and colorful characters in the history of a city full of them.

The Strip: Las Vegas and the Architecture of the American Dream

3. The Strip: Las Vegas and the Architecture of the American Dream by Stefan Al

The Strip is more than the Strip. That is the thesis of this book, which argues that Las Vegas Boulevard, with all its glitz, glamour and grime not only represents the city it’s named after, but all of America. This historic look at the making and remaking of one of the most famous streets in the world, complete with amazing photos throughout the years, brings to light the war for hotel dominance between many of Las Vegas’ most famous players and it’s all reflected against the idea that as Las Vegas goes, so does America, or vice versa.

Casino: Love and honor in Las Vegas by Nicholas Pileggi

4. Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas by Nicholas Pileggi

Can any writer – save for Mario Puzo – capture the voice of The Mafia better than Nicholas Pileggi? This book was the basis for the film “Casino,” which Pileggi co-wrote with director Martin Scorsese. It follows the exploits of Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal and Anthony “The Ant” Spilatro. They lived large in Vegas as the Mob ruled the city in the 1970s and early ‘80s, but of course it all came crashing down in the end. Pileggi was writing cool true crime before true crime became cool.

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Bringing Down The House by Ben Mezrich

5. Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six MIT Students Who Took Vegas for Millions by Ben Mezrich

Mezrich is a controversial author. And with controversy comes success. He is a brand name and his style is known immediately. This is the book that launched it all for the writer, a fast-paced caper style retelling of a gambling hit squad of MIT students that would move from casino to casino with surgical precision and wreck “the house” on the blackjack tables. To say that not everything in the book is true would be an understatement. But damn, it’s entertaining as hell.

Grandissimo: The First Emperor of Las Vegas by David G. Schwartz

6. Grandissimo: The First Emperor of Las Vegas: How Jay Sarno Won a Casino Empire, Lost It, and Inspired Modern Las Vegas by David G Schwartz

And the winner for longest titles goes to this one. But maybe that’s appropriate for the story of Jay Sarno, the man who had grand designs for Las Vegas – some realized, some never to be seen. This book tells the story of the man who had as much influence on the modern Las Vegas resort as anybody, yet often doesn’t get the credit he deserves.

Citizen Hughes by Michael Drosnin

7. Citizen Hughes by Michael Drosnin

The mystery of one of the most fascinating characters not just in the history of Las Vegas, but in the entire world, is spotlighted with twists, turns and the obligatory amount of insanity that any Howard Hughes story requires in this book. He was a genius and a madman and fiercely private. This tale dissects the persona of Hughes based on the handwritten notes of his that were stolen. Go deep into the fascinating story of Howard Hughes and the theft of his notes, many of which are included in the book.

Vegas Knockout: A Novel in Stories by P. Moss

8. Vegas Knockout: A Novel in Stories by P Moss

P Moss knows Las Vegas better than most. He is the proprietor of off-Strip punk rock institution The Double Down Saloon and hipster haven Frankie’s Tiki Room. His taverns bring in all types and his skill as a writer is showcased through a variety of characters in this book. The stories are all linked together but have their own arcs, à la “Pulp Fiction.” Everything takes place around a championship boxing match, which, to Las Vegas, is like a national holiday. Sixteen short stories are woven together to create a true reflection of a big fight night in Vegas.

Liberace Extravaganza! by Connie Furr Soloman and Jan Jewett

9. Liberace Extravaganza! by Connie Furr Soloman and Jan Jewett

He was one of a kind and so were his costumes. Perhaps no performer in the history of Las Vegas encapsulated the city’s decadence better than “Mr. Showmanship.” This book features more than 260 glossy pictures of his jaw-dropping costumes plus original sketches. The authors have both worked in costume design for decades, so readers are getting the inside look at how these memorable outfits were made and how man transformed into a showman.

Spectacular: A History of Las Vegas Neon by Melissa Johnson

10. Spectacular: A History of Las Vegas Neon by Melissa Johnson

One of the underrated tourist attractions in Vegas is the Neon Museum. The main attraction there is the Neon Boneyard, which allows visitors to take a walk through the history of Sin City with neon signs from hotels long gone, signs that used to hang proudly, advertising their namesake resorts. This book, produced by the Neon Museum, offers background on neon lights, its history in Las Vegas and the pièce de résistance, awe-inspiring pictures of the signs.

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About The Author

Jason is originally from the great state of New Jersey. That’s right – great! He’s lived in Las Vegas on and off for the past 20 years, which he also rates as top notch. As a pop culture fanatic, he loves concerts, great food, offbeat adventures and movies. He has written for too many publications to mention, has sold a few screenplays and is immersed in the creative world.

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