Summer and vacations are my time to catch up on my reading in genres other than theological/religious books. Military history, space race, fiction, biographies – I am a sucker for a good story. My favorite way to find a book? Wandering thru Barnes & Nobles – especially the bargain books. That is how I found this book.
Steve Fischer knows how to tell a story. He first tried selling some Vegas memorabilia online. He would tell the backstory of the item and then people would visit his site not to buy the item but to read the stories. So he put them in this book.
If you are a mobster/Godfather story kinda of person – you are going to love this book. (By the way, Fischer thinks the movie Casino is the best picture about mobsters.) It’s written as if you were drinking a cup of coffee with the author as he spins story after story. It doesn’t really matter if you know the characters or not…they are just fun to listen to. Fischer writes with an understated sarcastic sense of humor even when covering topics like who exactly was the best hit man in Vegas. Which according to Fischer, the safest place in the world actually was inside the city limits of Vegas. The Feds were cranking up the heat in the 40’s after all the bloodshed. Plus the Mob knew that gamblers were not going to drop their money in a place they could get killed. So the Mob collectively decided to quit killing inside Vegas. Of course, they did not have that same kind of restraint outside of Vegas.
The book is not all mob hits and jail time. Fischer covers the who’s who of Vegas entertainment back in the 50s and 60s. Like the night Frank Sinatra went to see Buddy Hacket perform and Buddy came out on stage with nothing on except his tall black dress socks and black shoes. He literally had half the audience , including Sinatra on the floor laughing so hard. The other half was in tears.
Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr get high marks in the book. Two of the geniunely funny, friendly guys. It was not uncommon for these guys to chat up guests in the lobby or over dinner. Sinatra does not. Part of the reason was his mob connections. But most of it is because Sinatra was every bit of a jerk. Apparently he was a huge prima donna.
My only issue with the book is that it isn’t written in chronological order. Fischer jumps back and forth, between decades, hotels, and characters. There is no set pattern to these stories. I wish the editor would have either reorganized the book thru one of these ways or at least made Fischer do it. It is only a minor distraction for a good read.
There are some PG-13 parts to the book. A little language, a lot of violence, and some showgirl stories. But very fun read for history buffs.
I am not recieving any promotional favors for this review. I’m not against accepting any if anyone out there can do that. However, for this review I bought this with my money at a local bookstore.