THE MONEY AND THE POWER: The Making of Las Vegas and Its Hold on America, 1947–2000
This ambitious, jolting investigative history simultaneously explores the "secret history" of Las Vegas malfeasance and the expansion of the city's ethos of greed and artifice into a wholesale American model. Married co-authors Denton (The Bluegrass Conspiracy) and Morris (Partners in Power) offer an expansive, finely detailed, slightly convoluted cultural narrative, beginning with concise biographies of key figures (mobsters Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel, news tycoon Hank Greenspun, anti-crime-crusading Senator Estes Kefauver). Failed 1950s reform movements allowed for the ascendance of organized crime, fortified by huge "skim" profits from casinos. Operation Underworld, a WWII collaboration between government and "Syndicate" forces, forged extensive relationships between federal agencies, corrupted police and gangsters that proved central to Las Vegas's economic boom. The profits radiated corruption outward, evinced in such "blowback" as repeated CIA-Mob assassination attempts on Castro. Formidable researchers, Denton and Morris train gimlet eyes on compromised officials like J. Edgar Hoover, gambling tycoons like Benny Binion and killers-cum-businessmen like Sam Giancana. They look into the growth of more malignant, polyethnic (and, they claim) CIA-supported organized crime facilitated by stereotyping of the Italian Mafia. Although their conflation of glitzy Vegas profligacy with corporate politics and consumerism may seem unwieldy, the book is undeniably disturbing and engrossing. It concludes with the 1999 mayoral election of Oscar Goodman, notorious Syndicate attorney, which was an augury of business as usual in what the authors portray as democracy's spiritual capital. 16 pages of b&w photos. (Mar. 26)
Forecast:With the authors' good reputations, the first printing of 75,000 copies, the nine-city tour (including a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette author luncheon), the unending fascination with Las Vegas–style debauchery and the Mafia, and certain media interest, this book can expect a big audience.
Release date: 04/01/2001