Feature Articles

November 2001

Books Worth Buying

By John William Tuohy

    We are proud to an nounce that American Mafia Staff writer Allen May has released his book "Mob Stories" which is available now on AMazon.Com      


The Money and the Power: The Making of Las Vegas and its Hold on America 1947-2000

Written by Sally Denton and Roger Morris

Alfred Knopf Publishers
ISBN  0-375-40130-X

479 pages with index, sources and notes.
16 pages of photographs, B &W, including pictures of Meyer Lansky, Benny Binion, the El Rancho (circa 1946)  Bugsy Siegel, Senator Pat McCarran, Estes Kefauver, the lobby of the Flamingo Hotel (circa 1947) Wilbur Clark, Joe Kennedy, the Cal-Neva (Circa 1947) Oscar Goodman and Tony Spilotro, and Jack Entratter among others.  

Available  on Amazon.Com

"If you can't get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance"
                                                                                     Irish proverb

     With the release of several above average works (The Last Mouthpiece, Making the Wise Guys Weep and Alan May's Crime Stories)- this is proving to be a banner year for quality crime books. Added to this elite list is "The Money and the Power.  The Making of Las Vegas and its Hold on America 1947-2000" by investigative reporters Sally Denton and Roger Morris.
     Majestic in its scope, The Money and the Power, is an accurate portrait
of that uniquely American phenomenon, Las Vegas.
    A friend told me about this gem, with the recommendation that it is "A dressed up mob book" He's right, although "The Money and the Power," is much more than that. Its a well written, fast paced, enjoyable and remarkably well researched work on a fascinating subject. The Money and the Power fills enormous gaps in American history and is long overdue.
      What makes this good reading is, despite the author impressive credentials, its obvious that they are, understandably, fascinated with, the other people, the boarder line people and their dull glitter, who created Las Vegas and Nevada as we know it. While the writters give an excellent, detached and intelligent overview of the subject, they are not, thank God, above dropping juicy bits of gossip and flash.
    Its the new research in the work that gives this book its place as a must-have for anyone interested in the subject. That, and the clever interlocking of the of the old and new stories about Vegas.               
    While I've read more about the mob and the Kennedy's in Las Vegas than anyone person should probably know, I still found a few dozen nuggets in this work that I wasn't aware of.  I didn't know, although I don't know how I missed it, that Joe Kennedy once had an interest in the mobbed up Cal-Neva Lodge later fronted by  Frank Sinatra. Nor did I know that Johnny Roselli, Chicago's point man out west, had two assignments with the CIA prior to the Spooks plot to murder Castro. Nor did I know that Benny Binion, the towns most colorful character (no small thing when talking about Las Vegas) played a major role in the Mobs take over of the Trans  National wire service.    
     But again, this isn't a mob book. Its a vivid history of a colorful town that greed and good times built, from its Mormon pioneers to the fascinating Steve Wynn, a place where the broken nose set rub shoulders and a few other body parts with the Newport crowd.
     The authors do a solid job covering the parade of politicians who have tromped through Sin City with hands (and other things) out. The authors are balanced in their coverage, meaning black eyes are dolled out equally to Kennedy, Ragan, Clinton and Laxalt. (I also didn't know that members of Clinton's family, back in Arkansas, I surprised to learn had some dealings with the Marcello mob gambling arm.)  
       The Money and the Power is a terrific read and worth its price.   

                          THE HOUSE THAT CRACK BUILT

Written by Clark Taylor, illustrated by Jan Thompson Dicks with 18 full color drawings 36 pages. Intended for ages four to six. Hard cover $12.95 or soft cover $6.95.

Published by Chronicle Books. Available at Amazon. Com, most local book sellers or direct from the publisher at 1-800-722-6657 or from their Website
Includes a well written closing appeal by drug counselor Michael Pritchard. Also includes information on five national anti-drug organizations.

   This is an important, small book and I hope it finds its place in every school library in America. Chronicle books deserves praise for publishing the work and keeping it in print. Buy it, read it, share it and join a fight worth fighting. But, this simple book doesn't preach, it has more honor than that.
   A take off on "The House That Jack Built," the work uses the familiar rhyme and takes the reader through the South American drug cartels crack trek to a school playgrund
     We follow the drugs through the network; it leaves Latin America, through production and distribution, to the "Girl who's killing her brain/Smoking the crack that numbs the pain" and the "Baby with nothing to eat/Born of the girl..."
   The powerful poem, that's what it is, with clear verse, transforms before our eyes and details our leading social ill and its effect on those in our society who can least afford the cost that drugs brings into their lives.
   The haunting text is enhanced by stylized, shadowed color illustrations featuring desperate-looking figures roaming an urban landscape, their heads cocked or even upside-down.
    This work will appeal to teenagers and adults and should be a standard resource tool for parents, teachers and librarians.


Written by Jim Heimann. $18.95 soft cover.
Over three hundred photographs, with bibliography and photo credits. Published by Chronicle Books. Available at Amazon.Com, most local book sellers or direct from the publisher at 1-800-722-6657 or from their Website

Reviewed by John William Tuohy

    I love this book. Any mob reader would and every Californian should own it.
Sins of the City is Bugsy, Double Indemnity, Chinatown, and LA Confidential, Raymond Chandler and every good Bogart movie every made.
   It's a book with a soul given to it by the writer, Jim Heimann, who understands his subject, feels it and dishes it out to us in wonderfully delicious tidbits and sometimes in gigantic portions, each leaving the reader to want to know more, the secret of a great book.
   This is a book about the funky, fascinating and fun LA of the past.
    Heimann directs the work to that gives us a sense of the times that made the places he shows us, and he shows us a lot, gambling parlors, speakeasies, drag balls, Beverly Hills movie premieres, the back alleys of Chinatown, swank nightclubs like La Conga and the Mocambo, tattoo parlors and the Sunset strip before it was  over developed.
   Several of the crime scene photos are not for the squeamish. Instead of the standard, tired, photo of the corpse of the Black Dahlia halved in a vacant lot, the work offers rarely seen shots of the corpse from a wider angle. Heinmann's book offers a peek into a nether world, long gone but never forgotten. Buy this book.

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