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



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...


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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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