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The Last Honest Place in America: Paradise and Perdition in the New Las Vegas (Nation Books)

3.6  ·  Rating details ·  52 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
Following in the tradition of Hunter S. Thompson, award-winning journalist Marc Cooper describes his longstanding love affair with Las Vegas. Cooper's kaleidoscopic journey begins in October 2001 with the dynamiting of the Desert Inn—the moment when old Vegas "cool" died and the new corporate model claimed definitive victory. From there he takes us on a journey from the gl
Paperback, 304 pages
Published December 21st 2004 by Nation Books (first published March 24th 2004)
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Dec 30, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Al Swearengen.
Shelves: history
It says a lot about America, or me, that when I picked up 'The Last Honest Place in America', for an instant, I could not for the life of me figure out what the book could be about, because I could not imagine an honest place left, anywhere in the world, let alone America. Then I read the subtitle: Paradise and Perdition in the New Las Vegas, and I got it. Marc Cooper does great things with titles. (For contrast, his other book is called 'Pinochet and Me'.) Comparisons are obviously going to be ...more
Jan 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I'm on my way to visit Las Vegas for the 4th time in 7 years. If I had my way I'd visit twice a year, heck, I'd love to live there. Marc Cooper covers a broad range of topics about Vegas from transgender strippers, blackjack tips, mob history, and all the juicy local government gossip. Cooper is really blatant about his love for "Old Vegas" which was at first annoying (hey, I like the big exploding volcano) but after diving a little deeper into Vegas' history, I couldn't help but fall in love wi ...more
Jul 21, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
Great cover, great title, fairly dull book, unless you are really interested in the political scene in Las Vegas and Nevada (although I was interested to learn that the Las Vegas Strip is not actually in the city of Las Vegas, and so the city gets none of the tax benefit from those casinos. The city casinos are those in the Fremont Street area, and those are dying a slow death). I enjoy Las Vegas, but I walked away from this book liking it less - there is still way more corruption that I thought ...more
Mar 14, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: travelers to Vegas who want more info than the guidebooks offer
Comparisons to Hunter S. Thompson in the book's description are undeserved and inaccurate, as this author's style is much more straightforward and more like a traditional narrative. I enjoyed reading this because the author is obviously an expert on the subject and covers interesting fringe aspects of Las Vegas. However, I feel compelled to note that this book is absolutely riddled with typos. I can usually live with a few, but there is one on almost every page, and that makes for really annoyin ...more
Dec 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
When your subject is as protean and booming as Las Vegas, it’s almost impossible to write a contemporary account of it that isn’t hopelessly dated within a year or two of publication. This account, being a few years beyond its expiration date, holds up surprisingly well. Marc Cooper has written a loose, quick history of Las Vegas with the confessional, first-person style of a popular magazine article; he brushes lightly over political and aesthetic judgments, adds flavor with personal history, a ...more
Apr 09, 2011 rated it liked it
A fairly fascinating, albeit dated at this point, snapshot of contemporary Vegas and how it got there. Cooper spends a lot of time reminiscing on pre-corporate Vegas, glorifying spots like the Desert Inn, the Horseshoe, and all those on Fremont Street, and spends a surprisingly scant amount of time on the mega-resort hotels and their development (except to crap on the Excalibur, but who hasn't, really?) aside from Steve Wynn and the establishment of the Mirage. I appreciated Cooper's look at the ...more
Dec 31, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those sitting in traffic on highway 15
Each chapter is a portrait of a player in the Vegas of the 21st century: a transsexual stripper cum union organizer, an old school blackjack dealer, the city's morally bankrupt politicians, gambler-addicts and the Harvard grads who study them, the MBAs who program the Strip's colonies of slot machines, and so on. Food for thought. A must read.
Feb 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Looks at Vegas during from 9/11/01 through 10/03. The September 11 Attacks marked the first downturn in the expansion of LV since the Strip was off and running in the 40s. Within 2 years, it was back to full steam ahead. Cooper does a good job telling the story through actual people he encounters along the way. This was a good starting point for my LV research project.
Jun 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Read this in preparation for my upcoming ALA trip to Lad Vegas. It was good longform journalistic writing and I enjoyed it. The biggest drawback was that it is ten years old, so the news about politics and events is not so timely at this point. Any suggestions for more current similar books?
Steve Ruskin
Apr 17, 2009 rated it it was ok
Somewhat of a dissapointment.
Dec 11, 2007 rated it liked it
Not bad...Covers the lives of 8 or 10 regular people in
Vegas and their experiences living, working, and existing there. I little uneven, but not bad..Worth a look for Vegas buffs.
Jul 29, 2008 rated it liked it
This was interesting after just visiting Vegas.
Only read if you plan on going or want to see what the city and its politicians are really like.
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