Sunday, April 21, 2013

When the Mob Ran Vegas, by Steve Fischer

When the Mob Ran Vegas: Stories of Money, Mayhem and Murder, by Steve Fischer

Fischer opens this series of Las Vegas anecdotes with the story of the Kefauver committee and its investigation into organized crime. While the visibility and findings of the committee are what eventually caused the mob to close their illegal casinos and concentrate in Vegas, the hearings are much better known for when Bugsy Siegel's girlfriend Virginia Hill announced on live television while under oath, "I'm the best damn cocksucker in the United States!" When the Mob Ran Vegas is a series of stories about the early days of Las Vegas and organized crime's role in its growth. It isn't a traditional history filled with footnotes and a thirty page bibliography, but more of a casual retelling of various legends from an enthusiastic aficionado. Most of the stories are pretty interesting, although a few devolve into lists of people with brief bios, but the last one about the closing of the Sands runs a bit maudlin with the author reminiscing about seeing Buddy Hackett perform or sharing an elevator with Doris Day. After reading I felt more like I'd spent an evening hearing tales about the not-so-good-old-days rather than learning about the history of the City of Lost Wages, but it was certainly an entertaining evening!

First Sentence:
From March 13 to March 30, 1951, the living room at our house was the place to be.

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