SOMETHING FOR NOTHING: A History of Gambling by Alice Fleming

SOMETHING FOR NOTHING: A History of Gambling

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Fleming's latest cut-and-paste survey has a chapter on dice from Babylonia on, a chapter on playing cards, a chapter on horse racing which covers also the mechanics of bookmaking, one on the numbers and its evolution from policy, and so on. in chapter six we learn that the first recorded lottery was organized in 1466 by the widow of Jan van Eyck, that half the Ivy League colleges were financed in part by lotteries, and that ""the most outrageous lottery fraud in American history"" was the 1830s Grand Louisiana Real Estate Lottery which offered New Orleans' most valuable buildings as prizes, then never held a drawing. None of this has the color the subject would suggest, though Fleming warms up in later chapters to the suicides and security measures at Monte Carlo and the opulence of several American counterparts. ""Carpet joints"" (elegant casinos) are surveyed chronologically as their center moves from New Orleans to Washington, D.C., to Saratoga to Chicago to Palm Beach--and their lower-class counterparts, ""sawdust joints,"" spring up in the rougher West. Today, there's Las Vegas; tomorrow (just mentioned), Atlantic City. Fleming ends with chapters on the darker topics of cheating, gambling addiction, and payoff scandals--all presented in the same drab, roundup manner. Bits and snippets for the idle reader, illustrated with photos and old prints.

Pub Date: June 22nd, 1978
Publisher: Delacorte