When Beyond the Mafia first appeared in 1996 it was hailed as a significant contribution to the history of Las Vegas and of ethnic minorities in America. Author Alan Balboni traces the history of Italians in Las Vegas from the founding of the city in 1905, recording their activities in the fledgling settlement. As Las Vegas grew, Italian Americans participated in every aspect of the city’s society and economy, including construction, retail establishments, hotels, and—after the statewide legalization of gambling in 1931—the casino industry. Basing his research on well over a hundred interviews, as well as the records of Italian American organizations, public agencies, and other sources, Balboni has produced a sparkling and thoroughly documented account of the history of one of Las Vegas’s most progressive and productive ethnic minorities. This new paperback edition includes an afterword by the author that brings the story of Las Vegas’s Italian Americans up to the present.
Bright Lights in the Desert explores the history of how members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Las Vegas have improved the regions’ neighborhoods, inspired educational institutions, brought integrity to the marketplace, and provided wholesome entertainment and cultural refinement. The LDS influence has helped shape the metropolitan city because of its members’ focus on family values and community service.
Woods discusses how, through their beliefs and work ethics, they have impacted the growth of the area from the time of their first efforts to establish a mission in 1855 through the present day. Bright Lights in the Desert reveals Las Vegas as more than just a tourist destination and shows the LDS community’s commitment to making it a place of deep religious faith and devotion to family.
Las Vegas, says William Fox, is a pay-as-you-play paradise that succeeds in satisfying our fantasies of wealth and the excesses of pleasure and consumption that go with it. In this context, Fox examines how Las Vegas’s culture of spectacle has obscured the boundaries between high art and entertainment extravaganza, nature and fantasy, for-profit and nonprofit enterprises. His purview ranges from casino art galleries—including Steve Wynn’s private collection and a branch of the famed Guggenheim Museum—to the underfunded Las Vegas Art Museum; from spectacular casino animal collections like those of magicians Siegfried and Roy and Mandalay Bay’s Shark Reef exhibit to the city’s lack of support for a viable public zoo; from the environmental and psychological impact of lavish water displays in the arid desert to the artistic ambiguities intrinsic to Las Vegas’s floating world of showgirls, lapdancers, and ballet divas. That Las Vegas represents one of the world’s most opulent displays of private material wealth in all its forms, while providing miserly funding for local public amenities like museums and zoos, is no accident, Fox maintains. Nor is it unintentional that the city’s most important collections of art and exotic fauna are presented in the context of casino entertainment, part of the feast of sensation and excitement that seduces millions of visitors each year. Instead, this phenomenon shows how our insatiable modern appetite for extravagance and spectacle has diminished the power of unembellished nature and the arts to teach and inspire us, and demonstrates the way our society privileges private benefit over public good. Given that Las Vegas has been a harbinger of national cultural trends, Fox’s commentary offers prescient insight into the increasing commercialization of nature and culture across America.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Las Vegas was a dusty, isolated desert town. By century’s end, it was the country’s fastest-growing city, a world-class travel destination with a lucrative tourist industry hosting millions of visitors a year. This transformation came about in large part because of a symbiotic relationship between airlines, the city, and the airport, facilitated by the economic democratization and deregulation of the airline industry, the development of faster and more comfortable aircraft, and the ambitious vision of Las Vegas city leaders and casino owners. Landing in Las Vegas is a compelling study of the role of fast, affordable transportation in overcoming the vast distances of the American West and binding western urban centers to the national and international tourism, business, and entertainment industries.
The remarkable economic growth of Las Vegas between 1980 and 2007 created a population boom and a major increase in the ethnic and religious diversity of the city. Today, over 21 percent of the city’s population is foreign born, and over 30 percent speak a language other than English at home. The local court system offers interpreters in 82 languages, and in 2005/2006, for example, more than 11,000 people, originating from 138 countries, were naturalized there as American citizens.More Peoples of Las Vegas extends the survey of this city’s cosmopolitan population begun in The Peoples of Las Vegas (University of Nevada Press, 2005). As in the previous book, this volume includes well-established groups like the Irish and Germans, and recently arrived groups like the Ethiopians and Guatemalans. Essays describe the history of each group in Las Vegas and the roles they play in the life and economy of the city. The essays also explore the influence of modern telecommunications and accessible air travel, showing how these factors allow newcomers to create transnational identities and maintain ties with families and culture back home. They also examine the role of local institutions—including clubs, religious organizations, shops, restaurants, and newspapers and other media—in helping immigrants maintain their ethnic and religious identities and in disseminating national and even regional cultures of origin.More Peoples of Las Vegas adds to our awareness of the rich and varied ethnic and religious character of Las Vegans. In a broader context, it offers thoughtful perspectives on the impact of globalization on a major American city and on the realities of immigrant life in the twenty-first century.
Beneath the glitzy surface of the resorts and the seemingly cookie-cutter suburban sprawl of Las Vegas lies a vibrant and diverse ethnic life. People of varied origins make up the population of nearly two million and yet, until now, little mention of the city has been made in studies and discussion of ethnicity or immigration. The Peoples of Las Vegas: One City, Many Faces fills this void by presenting the work of seventeen scholars of history, political science, sociology, anthropology, law, urban studies, cultural studies, literature, social work, and ethnic studies to provide profiles of thirteen of the city’s many ethnic groups. The book’s introduction and opening chapters explore the historical and demographic context of these groups, as well as analyze the economic and social conditions that make Las Vegas so attractive to recent immigrants. Each group is the subject of the subsequent chapters, outlining migration motivations and processes, economic pursuits, cultural institutions and means of transmitting culture, involvement in the broader community, ties to homelands, and recent demographic trends.
From 1940 to 1989, nearly every hotel on the Las Vegas Strip employed a full-time band or orchestra. After the late 1980s, when control of the casinos changed hands from independent owners to corporations, almost all of these musicians found themselves unemployed. Played Out on the Strip traces this major shift in the music industry through extensive interviews with former musicians. In 1989, these soon-to-be unemployed musicians went on strike. Janis McKay charts the factors behind this strike, which was precipitated by several corporate hotel owners moving to replace live musicians with synthesizers and taped music, a strategic decision made in order to save money. The results of this transitional period in Las Vegas history were both long-lasting and far-reaching for the entertainment industry. With its numerous oral history interviews and personal perspectives from the era, this book will appeal to readers interested in Las Vegas history, music history, and labor issues.
At once a Technicolor wonderland and the embodiment of American mythology, Las Vegas exists at the Ground Zero of a reverence for risk-taking and the transformative power of a winning hand. Jake Johnson edits a collection of short essays and flash ideas that probes how music-making and soundscapes shape the City of Second Chances. Treating topics ranging from Cher to Cirque de Soleil, the contributors delve into how music and musicians factored in the early development of Vegas’s image; the role of local communities of musicians and Strip mainstays in sustaining tensions between belief and disbelief; the ways aging showroom stars provide a sense of timelessness that inoculates visitors against the outside world; the link connecting fantasies of sexual prowess and democracy with the musical values of Liberace and others; considerations of how musicians and establishments gambled with identity and opened the door for audience members to explore Sin City–only versions of themselves; and the echoes and energy generated by the idea of Las Vegas as it travels across the country.
Contributors: Celine Ayala, Kirstin Bews, Laura Dallman, Joanna Dee Das, James Deaville, Robert Fink, Pheaross Graham, Jessica A. Holmes, Maddie House-Tuck, Jake Johnson, Kelly Kessler, Michael Kinney, Carlo Lanfossi, Jason Leddington, Janis McKay, Sam Murray, Louis Niebur, Lynda Paul, Arianne Johnson Quinn, Michael M. Reinhard, Laura Risk, Cassaundra Rodriguez, Arreanna Rostosky, and Brian F. Wright
Mass shootings have been on the rise in the United States since the early 2000s, but until the heartbreak of the 1 October 2017 Route 91 Harvest Music Festival, the citizens of Las Vegas had never experienced the violence and tragedy of this now all-too-frequent occurrence. That day, fifty-eight people were shot to death on site, while another two victims later died of their injuries. The 1 October incident physically wounded nearly 900 concert-goers, but psychologically impacted countless untold victims.
As individual and institutional response to urgent requests for help came in both during and after the 1 October catastrophe, those who call Las Vegas home struggled to cope with pain and grief. Now, editor Roberta Sabbath draws together a collection of personal essays, oral histories, interviews, scholarly writings, and commentaries to remember those whose lives were lost, and to honor survivors and their loved ones. Written five years after the tragedy, each contribution offers a unique story of healing, demonstrating the wide-ranging experiences and repercussions of the event. The essays in this collection represent a broad diversity of voices from political leaders, health professionals, first responders, community members, and incident survivors. This work is dedicated to those who lost their lives on 1 October 2017, to survivors and their loved ones, and to the caregivers—both individual and institutional—all of whom continue to keep Vegas Strong.
Borchard’s account offers a graphic, disturbing, and profoundly moving picture of life on Las Vegas’s streets, depicting the strategies that homeless men employ in order to survive, from the search for a safe place to sleep at night to the challenges of finding food, maintaining personal hygiene, and finding an acceptable place to rest during a long day on the street.
That such misery and desperation exist in the midst of Las Vegas’s hedonistic tourist economy and booming urban development is a cruel irony, according to the author, and it threatens the city’s future as a prime tourist destination. The book will be of interest to social workers, sociologists, anthropologists, politicians, and all those concerned about changing the misery on the street.
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