Those who enjoy books about celebrities, high-rollers, big money and big action will have a ball with two titles keyed to gambling and wild times in Las Vegas. Breaking My Silence — Confessions of a Rat Pack Party Girl by Jane McCormick and Patti Wicklund ($19.95, paperbound, 248 pages) and Bets, Drugs, and Rock & Roll (The Rise and Fall of the World’s First Offshore Sports Betting Empire) by Steve Budin with Bob Schaller ($24.95, hardbound, 253 pages) each show what a wild and crazy world big money can create and how people can lose their sense of direction.
If you know anything about the 1960s in Las Vegas and the famous Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr. among them) and the old Sands Hotel, McCormick’s book will fill you in on their private sexual, sometimes funny escapades.
Now in her 60s, McCormick was one wild and uninhibited young lady who cavorted with Las Vegas celebrities. A former high paid prostitute, she was also a victim of abuse and pill popping. Her book is both a revealing autobiography (she now lives in Minnesota), a look behind the scenes at stardom reality and an anti-prostitution advocate.
She has a remarkable memory for places, faces and incidents. Her book, well-indexed and well-detailed, pulls few punches. She’s been through it all. And she tries to warn a new generation of potential hookers to get out now, because there’s little hope of any future for them.
Budin’s Bets, Drugs, and Rock & Roll is about making and taking bets, about the phonies in the business, the hustlers, conmen, payoffs in Central America, and the difference between survival in Panama and flourishing in Costa Rica.
Budin describes back stabbing employees, loyalty, going up and down the economic ladder in the millions of dollars, narrow escapes and the transition from being a bet-taker to a handicapping servicer.
The book is both an inside look at the sports bookmaking industry from top to bottom from a man who’s been there and almost lost his soul and the author’s life while using drugs. He warns of the sometimes unexpected dangers big money can bring.
I wish the book was indexed by name and place and had photos of locations mentioned””and the author agrees””but otherwise it’s a great read.
These books and more are available from Gambler’s Book Shop (Gambler’s Book Club) in Las Vegas. The store’s web site is www.gamblersbook.com; or you can call toll free at 1-800-522-1777.