The Grit Beneath the Glitter


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"Rothman and Davis have given us not only the gritty, often ugly reality behind the nation's brightest lights but also the touching human drama that is the essence of our most emblematic and enigmatic city. From the grind joints of Glitter Gulch to the mammoth theme hotels of the twenty-first-century Strip, this collection blends marvelously the best old-fashioned scholarship and investigative reporting with the finest postmodern literary sensibility and journalism. To understand the new West, and thus the new century's America, begin here."—Sally Denton and Roger Morris, authors of The Money and the Power: The Making of Las Vegas and Its Hold on America, 1947-2000

"Like rabbits mesmerized by a snake, cultural critics have been locked onto the public spectacle of Las Vegas for so long they've taken its facades for its entirety. But what is now surely the greatest show on earth is in every sense of the word a production. That production requires extraordinary natural resources and the grueling labor offstage of producers-hotel maids, construction workers-and as a byproduct has generated a vast city that says far more about the scary state of things than all the sequins on all the nipples on the strip. Grit Beneath the Glitter gets that picture whole, in an exhilarating, unsettling way."—Rebecca Solnit, author of Hollow City: The Siege of San Francisco and the Crisis of American Urbanism and Savage Dreams: A Journey into the Landscape Wars of the American West

"Most of us have ideas about Las Vegas. (In 1999 it surpassed Mecca as the world's top tourist attraction.) But what is it like to live there, to work there? How long can it keep reshaping itself and what does its example mean for the future? In this book, artists, critics, and scholars, all with an intimate knowledge of the place, combine forces to explain this latest version of the American dream, compelling the attention of anyone interested in what the urban future holds. Their insights will amaze you."—Carol A. O'Connor, co-editor of The Oxford History of the American West

"There is no other book about Las Vegas, that 'playground of paradox,' as entertaining or fascinating as this. In puzzling over whether Las Vegas is a place of 'resounding ordinariness' or 'the latest in American dream capitals,' the contributors to this volume serve up a veritable banquet of delicious mind-food, one delicious entree following another. Bravo!"—Dennis R. Judd, co-author of The Tourist City

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