An engaging insider’s account of the down-and-dirty machinations that go into high-stakes real estate development.



Two powerful personalities clash in this firsthand account of Steve Wynn’s bid to open a new casino on Donald Trump’s turf.

In the mid- to late-1990s, Atlantic City, N.J., was Donald Trump’s town; as the man behind the Trump Plaza, the Trump Castle and the Trump Taj Mahal, the Donald held a huge stake in the city—one that he wasn’t open to sharing with others. So when world-famous gaming magnate Steve Wynn, whose Mirage Resorts had at one time owned and operated the Golden Nugget Atlantic City, sent right-hand man, and our narrator, “Skip” Bronson to town to begin the process of turning an undeveloped former landfill into a glittering world-class casino and resort, Trump moved into overdrive to stop them. Still smarting from a recent failed attempt to set up shop in Connecticut, Bronson and his team quickly decided that transportation would be key to the casino’s success, so they came up with the idea of the Brigantine Connector—a tunnel that would funnel gamers from the interstate under some of the seedier sections of town and directly to the front door of Wynn’s proposed casino. Trump realized that without the tunnel, Wynn’s project probably wouldn’t take off, so through a mix of lawsuits, outrageous public statements and bombs lobbed via the local press, Trump and his allies tried their best to stop construction. As a firsthand participant in the struggle between these two powerful men, the author presents a full account of the conflict and a detailed behind-the-scenes view of the incredible amount of bureaucratic squabbling, glad-handing and negotiation that goes on before a development of this scale can take place, not to mention the many places such a project can suddenly go flying off the tracks. Bronson, whose writing is clear and warm, packs the story with many anecdotes from his long career as a developer. While the digressions are usually funny, they can occasionally detract from the main narrative, but overall they add to the book’s welcoming, conversational tone.

An engaging insider’s account of the down-and-dirty machinations that go into high-stakes real estate development.

Pub Date: May 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-1468300468

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Richard D. Bronson

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.



Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A unique, inspiring story by a member of the Greatest Generation.


A firsthand account of how the Navajo language was used to help defeat the Japanese in World War II.

At the age of 17, Nez (an English name assigned to him in kindergarten) volunteered for the Marines just months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Growing up in a traditional Navajo community, he became fluent in English, his second language, in government-run boarding schools. The author writes that he wanted to serve his country and explore “the possibilities and opportunities offered out there in the larger world.” Because he was bilingual, he was one of the original 29 “code talkers” selected to develop a secret, unbreakable code based on the Navajo language, which was to be used for battlefield military communications on the Pacific front. Because the Navajo language is tonal and unwritten, it is extremely difficult for a non-native speaker to learn. The code created an alphabet based on English words such as ant for “A,” which were then translated into its Navajo equivalent. On the battlefield, Navajo code talkers would use voice transmissions over the radio, spoken in Navajo to convey secret information. Nez writes movingly about the hard-fought battles waged by the Marines to recapture Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima and others, in which he and his fellow code talkers played a crucial role. He situates his wartime experiences in the context of his life before the war, growing up on a sheep farm, and after when he worked for the VA and raised a family in New Mexico. Although he had hoped to make his family proud of his wartime role, until 1968 the code was classified and he was sworn to silence. He sums up his life “as better than he could ever have expected,” and looks back with pride on the part he played in “a new, triumphant oral and written [Navajo] tradition,” his culture's contribution to victory.

A unique, inspiring story by a member of the Greatest Generation.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-425-24423-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dutton Caliber

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2011

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