Three unusual but fascinating books have arrived at Gambler’s Book Shop in Las Vegas: Las Vegas Babylon: True Tales of Glitter, Glamour and Greed by Jeff Burbank (280 pages, hardbound, $21.95); The Glorious Deception (The Double Life of William Robinson, also known as Chung Ling Soo, The Marvelous Chinese Conjurer) by Jim Steinmeyer (481 pages, hardbound, $27); and How to Spot a Liar by Gregory Harley and Maryann Karinch (263 pages, paperbound, $14.99).
Any one of all of these books would be welcome items under the Christmas tree.
Burbank, who also wrote License to Steal, which tells the story of some of the most controversial figures ever encountered by the Nevada Gaming Control Board, here concentrates on high profile mobsters, movie stars, entertainers, casino owners, incidents and politicians in 32 juicy chapters.
Well-illustrated and with a nine-page detailed index, it’ll be an eye-opener for those unaware of Las Vegas’ colorful, and somewhat unorthodox history. Names named include Bugsy Siegel, Moe Dalitz, Marilyn Monroe, Louis Armstrong, Judy Garland, Jayne Mansfield, John F. Kennedy, Lenny Bruce, Elvis Presley, Jim Morrison, Sonny Liston, Phyllis McGuire, Harry Reid, Kirk Kerkorian, Benny Binion, Steve Wynn.
There’s nothing really earthshaking about the book. It’s written well, culled from a variety of previous resources. It’s a quick, easy read for those planning to move to or visit Las Vegas for the first time.
Besides, Las Vegas is perennial hot subject — constantly in the limelight for its incessant changes, bizarre incidents and believe-it-or-not approach to normality.
The Glorious Deception focuses on one of magic history’s greatest and oddest stage performers, William Robinson. Even Houdini was awed by this man’s feats, which included an act called Defying the Bullets, an effect in which he caught marked bullets on a porcelain plate. It was a time (1918) a New York when a boy could successfully reinvent himself as the world’s greatest Chinese magician.
Illustrated and well-indexed, it is written by an author who himself invented many of the famous illusions used by leading magicians from Siegfried & Roy to Ricky Jay. Steinmeyer also created David Copperfield’s vanish of the Statue of Liberty.
How to Spot a Liar (Why People Don’t Tell The Truth and How You Can Catch Them) is designed for individuals who conduct job interviews, who has a cheating spouse or manipulative boss, someone trying to survive the dating scene, or even a politician (or someone who works with one!). Co-author Hartley has worked as a military interrogator.
The book should come in handy for casino human resources personnel during recruitment or for those who seek a job, helping prepare for those "curveball questions" often tossed unexpectedly at applicants.
Although this might be a stretch, the book has some angles a poker player might wish to adopt to counter ploys by opponents seeking to find out if you’ve been bluffing, why you remain calm or stoic or to try to force you into a "tilt" mode.
These books are now available at the Gambler’s Book Shop (Gambler’s Book Club) in Las Vegas. The store’s web site is www.gamblersbook.com. The toll free phone number is 1-800-522-1777.