Las Vegas was the Mob's greatest venture and most spectacular success, and through 40 years of frenzy, murder, deceit, scams, and skimming, the FBI listened on phone taps and did virtually nothing to stop the fun. This is the truth about the Mob's control of the casinos in Vegas like you've never heard it before, from start to finish.
Two of the nation's most powerful crime family bosses went to prison in the 1930s: Al Capone, and Lucky Luciano. Frank Nitti took over the Chicago Outfit, while Frank Costello ran things for the Luciano Family. Both men were influenced by their bosses from prison, and both sent enough gangsters into the streets to influence loan sharking, extortion, union control, and drug sales. Bugsy Siegel worked for both groups, handling a string of murders and opening up gaming on the west coast, and that included Las Vegas, an oasis of sin in the middle of the desert - and it was legal. Most of it. The FBI watched as the Mob took control of casino after casino, killed off the competition, and stole enough money to bribe their way to respectability back home.
By the 1950s, nearly every major crime family had a stake in a Las Vegas casino. Some did better than others. Casino owners watched-over their profits while competing crime families eyed each other's success like jealous lovers. Murder often followed.
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From Bugsy to Binion
Sure, but Jason Sullivan has to do research when he reads a book the subject of which he knows nothing about. There have to be conservatively 12 documentaries about organized crime and Las Vegas he could watch to get the right pronunciation of proper names.
Mr. Moe could eliminate all his sarcasm with benefit. It is not especially amusing to the reader and serves mainly to undermine the journalistic integrity of his prose. I would also like to see a source bibliography. For example Al Moe appears to take it for granted that the urban legend that Joseph Kennedy was a "bootlegger" has substance. Kennedy passed the senate Republicans vetting exam twice when he became Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission and again when he became Ambassador to Great Britain. There is no way those Republicans would have signed off on him had there been even a suggestion that he was involved in the manufacturing or distribution of illegal alcohol during prohibition. Where does Mr. Moe verify his statements and how does he think Kennedy got around those Republican senators? THAT would be a story!
I learned a lot about the history of Ben Binion and his criminal associates. This is also the first time I learned how ineffective Howard Hughes was in rebuilding Las Vegas.
Mr. Sullivan has a pleasant enough voice and is a good reader. Unfortunately he apparently believes he can get away with guessing at the pronunciations. Kefauver is pronounced KEEF-offer, NOT kifever. Meyer Lansky's first name is pronounced MY-yor NOT Mayor. Raymond Patriarca's last name is pronounced Pat-ri-AR-ka, NOT Patricka. The mispronunciation of Kefauver made me cringe every time he did it and he did it a lot.
Hopefully it does not. Only time can tell us this.
Overall I enjoyed the book. It fit in well with other books I've read about these people.
- Patrick King
It was okay