Elaborate justification for anything an outsider might doubt about Gambler’s Paradise.

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HOW LAS VEGAS STARTED THE 21ST CENTURY

Relentlessly upbeat chronicle of America’s capital of glamour, sin, money-laundering, and heavyweight boxing—somewhat surprising, coming from the editor of the journal Environmental History and author of Saving the Planet (2000).

Rothman (History/Univ. of Nevada, Las Vegas) posits that his city “is the therapeutic ethos of our time run amok, our sociopsychological promise to ourselves to be eternally young writ large.” Las Vegas “symbolizes the new America,” where concepts like traditional community or an industry-based economy came to die; this new template of a globalized, service-based entertainment economy requires the reader to discard familiar notions of “space, order, economy, and standards . . . replace them with a new kind of intellectual organization that is still being formed.” In pursuit of this new perspective, the author divides his arguments into three sections. “Making Money” chronicles the checkered history of casino control, hailing the 1980s transition from decades-long Mafia ownership to the Wall Street ethos represented by Steve Wynn’s Mirage. “Filling Las Vegas” addresses the city’s fluctuating demographic, characterizing a transitory, fragmented population as filled with entrepreneurial spirit and desire for both glitz and community. “Building a New City” notes Vegas’s failure to deal realistically with sprawl-related issues like traffic and depicts developers’ aggressive transformation of the desert with housing both affordable and opulent. Rothman is a competent writer whose research and thought combine cultural studies with pro-business attitudes. The result is an aggressive, boosterish tone that will alienate many readers: the author never met a corporate shark he didn’t like, including Mob-lawyer-turned-mayor Oscar Goodman. Rothman acknowledges Vegas’s ills in strong passages on service-economy labor strife, and the dangerous demographics of a youthful, nonwhite working class servicing a shrinking, aging, wealthy population, but he barely addresses the connection between those shortcomings and the city’s transformation by corporate interests wedded to market forces.

Elaborate justification for anything an outsider might doubt about Gambler’s Paradise.

Pub Date: March 15, 2002

ISBN: 0-415-92612-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Routledge

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2002

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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