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4.02  ·  Rating details ·  4,052 ratings  ·  135 reviews
From the author of the best-selling Mafia exposé, Wiseguy, comes this inside story of the billion-dollar gambling industry and the secretive, dangerous men who run it. At the heart of this true tale of love, revenge, and murder Mafia-style are some of the most memorable characters in mob lore: Lefty, the brains of the mob's Vegas casinos; Tony Spilotro, the mob's muscle; ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 348 pages
Published December 31st 1996 by Pocket Books (first published January 1st 1995)
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The Godfather by Mario PuzoGangster by Lorenzo CarcaterraThe Sicilian by Mario PuzoDonnie Brasco by Joseph D. PistoneWiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi
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In Cold Blood by Truman CapoteHelter Skelter by Vincent BugliosiThe Stranger Beside Me by Ann RuleThe Devil in the White City by Erik LarsonColumbine by Dave Cullen
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4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,052 ratings  ·  135 reviews

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Aug 16, 2007 added it
The true story behind the movie "Casino", this book of the same title goes into far more detail about the rise and fall of Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal. As you read it, you notice that the movie changed certain details - more than likely to translate better to film. The reality is far more brutal and fascinating than the movie however. Anyone who has any interest in the inner workings of casinos or old Las Vegas should read this!
Andy Cooper
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
This is an overrated book. But don't worry, all is not lost. It just needs to be re-purposed and moved into a different genre.

I am putting in a recommendation to officially change the title to The Encyclopedia of Mafia Run Casinos. If you are looking for a well told story, then go somewhere else. Preferably back into Mario Puzo novels. On the other hand if you want to read a hastily put together story built by stacking facts and miscellaneous information on top of one another, then look no furth
Nemo Erehwon
Fast reading and entertaining book on organized crime in the Las Vegas casino system.

Would be excellent, except that it suffers from AES; A-hole Encouragement Syndrome. This is where the author overlooks certain warning signs about his main subject. Since the subject is either a murderer, a con-man, a thugs, and/or a thief, it is quite possible the subject is also a liar out to impress the author, interested prosecutorial figures, and other suckers who read the book. AES is a common ailment of b
Sep 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sordid gossip and outrageous bravado highlight the inside tales of mob rule in 1970’s Las Vegas. This book spills the goods as if being whispered on the down low in the back booth of some bar amidst a smoky cigarette haze. It’s all salacious and outrageous and true. The bits and pieces of this true-life crime drama, particularly the first-person narratives, are amazing in their candor. However, the age of the book has taken a toll. Social media is now center stage, and what was once over-the-top ...more
P.e. lolo
Feb 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime
Here is a book that the movie with the same title was based on. Of course the book goes into more detail about the life of Lefty Rosenthal. Starting from his childhood through his time in Vegas. Overall this is a good book with the parts of Vegas bring back memories of the old casinos that are no longer there. It was also amazing how at one time he was running the book for four casinos. This book has a lot of details and history that was interesting to read. I also remember reading about the fra ...more
Jan 13, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: organized-crime
One of the best books about the mob in Las Vegas. It so happens that the complex web surrounding Frank Rosenthal in Las Vegas was one of the most difficult organized crime-related operations in Vegas. Pileggi clearly describes the power struggles between the various players in great detail.
Jun 29, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've seen the movie a hundred times, and it turns out that it's pretty faithful to the book.

This book features extensive interviews with some of the major players in the story. Pileggi's skill is to draw these all together (not to mention getting everyone to be so candid) alongside the supporting research to crosscheck details and provide extra absurdity (like Left Rosenthal taking the 5th 37 times in one stint on the witness stand, including on whether or not he's lefthanded).

I think the takeaw
Deyth Banger
Feb 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2017
The fun is over... now what has been left from the old days is nothing... people are just not serious.


February 13, 2017 –
90.0% "YOu got everything?

No, you got only my ass.... just to smell it... nothing else!"
February 13, 2017 –
70.0% "That all are the cleaners... as you called it SPOTLESS...."
February 13, 2017 –
70.0% "The fun is over... people just reaveled everything!"
February 13, 2017 –
70.0% "Hahahahaa, all shit is put in one place... the game is over... somebody else has take
Frank Stein
Apr 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most of this book is gleaned from personal interviews with questionable characters, but how else would anyone get a handle on how the Mafia ran Las Vegas for 40 years? Nicholas Pileggi does yeoman's work tracking down the main cops and culprits to paint a vivid picture of the casino industry when it was little short of a mob-front. The book centers on the friendship of "Lefty" Frank Rosenthal, a world-renowned sports-handicapper and gambler when that was still a real federal crime, and Tony "the ...more
Craig Williams
Nicholas Pileggi uses first-hand accounts to cobble together a chronicle of the rise and fall of mob influence in Las Vegas, centered around an expert gambler named Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, who oversaw the casino skimming operations, and his childhood friend Tony Spilotro, who acted as an enforcer for the mob. The Scorcesi film CASINO was based on this book.

Being that Casino is one of my favorite Scorsesi films, I was interested in reading about the real life figures the characters were based on
Dec 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another case of the book being better than the movie. Sometimes movies just don't have the time to really explain the characters and their situations. For example, although it is said that Geri Rosenthal habitually used alcohol and drugs in the movie (although they didn't use her real name, of course), they never mentioned that she was also helping out some of her family members, like her 11-year old daughter, her sister, and her mother.

What I thought was amazing was how much money was moving th
Jane Davis
Jun 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
If you saw the movie based on this book it is a must read. The town was simpler then. No stop lights on L V Blvd, ah, the good old days how I miss them, and nothing much beyond Tropicana. This is the Las Vegas when the mob was there and the police were none too polite if you showed a shady side. To this day public employees are fingerprinted.

After seeing the movie my sister remarked, "The book wasn't that violent, was it?" Of course not. It takes this book to give you the real names, actions an
Johnny Moscato
Sep 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
After reading (and loving) Wiseguy, Casino was a huge disappointment. The movie was a million times better. I'm not even sure how the movie is based on this book. Even setting the movie aside the book is boring and overflowing with names. The only way to keep all the names straight would be to write them all down to reference as you read. The writing skips from one person's perspective to another's so quickly and often that it's confusing and you have to keep going back to figure out who's being ...more
Dec 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
In this book, Pileggi relates the story of the last days of mob control of Las Vegas casinos, specifically the Stardust. If you have seen the movie Casino, you know the general story (but the names and many facts were changed).

Pileggi does not let his writing get in the way of a good story. The book is made up primarily of interviews and long stretches of story-telling by "Lefty" Rosenthal himself, various mob informants, and an assortment of federal and state law enforcement agents. Although th
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an insane book! It's crazy thinking how the Mafia was operating there. Made me think a lot about Vegas...all about appearances, then and now, take away all the big buildings and marquee signs and there's nothing but sand and dirty pavement. Anyone wanting to know some Mafia history about Vegas would find this book a must read. This is one of those times when I'm not sure which is better-the book or the movie because they are both sensational.
Jul 24, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: donated
Too dry and force. The mob would not approve.
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
I knew the minute Sharon Stone threw those chips in the air in the movie Casino that I was going to love this movie. That love affair has never ended and then the book popped up on Bookbub and I was thoroughly excited! So much so that I bought the book, watched the movie, read the book and then watched the movie again.

One main difference is that the book actually uses all the real names of the individuals. This allows the reader to set off exploring more about the real people online and pull up
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Solid true crime novel that nicely explains how the mob lost Las Vegas through the tale of Lefty Rosenthal & Tony Spilotro, but is too straight forward to be truly great. Pileggi does a great job getting interviews and stories from his subjects, from Lefty, the FBI and various other mobsters, and let's them tell the story. It is a story so crazy it has to be true (Lefty at one point had a popular talk show where he interviewed O.J. Simpson & Frank Sinatra to cover he wasn't licensed to w ...more
Scorscese's work is infinitely more interesting, but it's a fictional account based on this book. The best description is that it is bare bones. I kept wanting broader descriptions and background. Perhaps my dissatisfaction stems from my recent reading of various types of Pulitzer Prize winning non-fiction titles. For instance, Pileggi quotes Rosenthal as saying, after Jerry's passing, that lots of folks suspected him of killing her or arranging her death. But he paid a considerable sum to have ...more
Christina Abel
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Since I also owned this Pileggi book, I decided to read it after Wiseguy. In comparison, I liked the Wiseguy book a bit better. This book was interesting and fun, but there were moments where the read got a little dull. In comparison to the movie, you can see where creative license was taken. The movie is pretty close to the book, but it's obvious that there are moments in the movie that were heightened for dramatic appeal or changed altogether for drama's sake. I do love me a good mob book, tho ...more
Aldo J. Marchioni
Sep 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great history of Vegas and the Mob

Terrific history of how organized crime took over Vegas, held it for years, and how they were washed out by the authorities. Told from interviews with Lefty Rosenthal, a principal player, it describes how it all came about, the organization that it took to keep it running, the key players, and how it all unraveled under the relentless pressure of the FBI and local law enforcement, plus the foibles of the key players themselves. Very good book, well written, and
May 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime, 2017-read
An excellent story about the mobs influence in Las Vegas, centering around two characters, Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, professional gambler and casino manager, and Anthony Spilotro, Chicago mobster. The story recounts the teamster financing of casinos, the business fronts, the mobster bosses, the murders, the skim, the thievery, the corruptions, and how it all fell apart with multiple players going to jail, or being murdered by their own associates. The book was a good read, and the movie rendition ...more
Daniel Ortiz
Jul 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
It’s a bummer that I was told numerous times while reading, “I didn’t realize they made a book adaptation of the movie..” 🙄

This, just like Wiseguy (Goodfellas), is a great account of true to life mobster dealings. If you’re a fan of Puzo or the Sopranos, et. al., this comes highly recommended! It’s no surprise Scorsese attached himself to these projects.
Ian Jean Webb
Jun 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Compelling read

Given Casino is one of my favorite movies, I thought I should at least read the book. It flows very well but I did find it hard to remember who was talking at some points. A lot of characters sometimes made it hard to follow. But, congratulations to Mr Pileggi for documenting a very interesting part of Las Vegas history.
Ben Tuthill
May 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Pileggi does another good novel. Casino is a good story about the mob in Vegas. As others have said the movie follows the book well but not exactly, the book goes into more detail and the movie changed some things to make it better for the screen. Overall a good story but it does get bogged down in spots.

Although interesting and true, there are no good guys in this story only degrees of bad.
Britt Echols
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 04, 2018 rated it liked it
It's funny that the book that provided the narrative for an awesomely overstuffed three-hour film epic could be this short and breezy and still provide more detail than the film. Books and movies are different from each other I guess. I think I liked Wiseguy more but i read that 20 years ago, which is weird to say out loud.
May 11, 2019 rated it liked it
It was very cool that this book was mostly quotes. However, it did make it a bit confusing about who was actually talking. The characters and love affair were not as exciting as advertised. It was, however, an interesting insiders perspective on the mafia.
Ian Martin
Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

As a fan of the movie, I bought this to read while having some down time, a little escapism! I found it quite enjoyable and would recommend it to anyone who likes reading the type of books that you can verify on Wikipedia or Google.
Annie Goldman
Jul 13, 2018 rated it did not like it
After watching the movie, I was interested in the book version. And it's terrible. It's a complete "he said she said" throughout the entire book and very choppy to read. I don't know how it became such a hit movie.
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Nicholas Pileggi is best known for writing the book Wiseguy, which he adapted into the movie Goodfellas, and for writing the book and screenplay Casino. The movie versions of both were co-written and directed by Martin Scorsese. Pileggi also wrote the screenplay for the 1996 film City Hall. He began his career as a journalist and had a profound interest in the Mafia. This is where he developed his ...more
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