Saturday, January 24, 2009

Las Vegas Recommended Reading

If you want to understand Las Vegas a little better, plenty of authors have written books to enlighten you. I’ve been working on a reading list of books about Las Vegas, and here’s what I’ve come up with so far.

Many things may affect our future as a city. A strained educational system. Sinking gaming revenues. A precarious economy. A devastated construction industry. Virtually non-existent social services. The elephant in the room, however, is water, and that’s a good place to begin. Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner is an well-written examination of water issues throughout the Southwest, not just Las Vegas, and it's incredibly readable. (The book inspired a companion documentary series.) Take a look at that 1,000-foot bathtub ring around Lake Mead, and you should see exactly why this is an important issue for all of us.

The late Hal K. Rothman wrote and spoke about Las Vegas with a depth and insight that is still missed. Get a copy of his book Neon Metropolis: How Las Vegas Started the Twenty-First Century to read his observations about Las Vegas and what’s in store for her.

Las Vegas can be a city of tremendous opportunity, but she’s cold-hearted when you’re down on your luck. Matt O’Brien writes about the people who are currently living under the City of Neon in our flood channel system in Beneath the Neon: Life and Death in the Tunnels of Las Vegas.

Are you for or against the Mob Museum? Organized crime has spawned a whole sub-genre of Las Vegas books to go along with the public's fascination with La Cosa Nostra. You probably know about Ben Siegel, but do you know who Dave Berman was? Susan Berman, his daughter, grew up in a young Las Vegas when the Mob truly did run things. She later wrote Easy Street, the True Story of a Gangster's Daughter, and became well-known as an expert on Las Vegas. Years later, Berman was the victim of a murder (still unsolved), which Las Vegas author Cathy Scott wrote about in Murder of a Mafia Daughter (Also see Scott's books on the Ted Binion murder and the Tupac Shakur murder.)

What about you? What's your nomination for the Vegas Girl's Recommended Reading List?
Photo courtesy of Tijmen van Dobbenburgh at


Cathy said...

Thanks for the mention of my books! Hope all is well with you. There's a book editing possibility available for you, through a friend, if you're interested? Let me know. --Cathy

TH Meeks said...

Thanks for stopping by the blog, Cathy! I'll drop you an e-mail about that editing possibility. Thanks!