Books you must read to understand Vegas

RJMastheadNewThe RJ recently compiled a list of must-read books to understand Vegas and two Huntington Press titles made the list: Cult Vegas by Mike Weatherford and The First 100 by A.D. Hopkins and K.J. Evans.

Las Vegas doesn’t get much credit for it, but it really is a literary sort of city.

Think about all the times over the years that Las Vegas has served as fodder for authors, journalists, novelists and anybody else who felt moved to put pen to paper and tell us who we are and how we got here.

In fact, there’s so much Las Vegas lit out there, the real problem is: Where does an inquisitive reader begin?

It’s toward that end — and with all of those holiday gift cards burning holes in local bibliophiles’ pockets — that we’ve put together a list of books that any well-read Southern Nevadan should check out.

We make no claim that this reading list is comprehensive or, for that matter, even correct. We can think of at least a dozen more books that would merit a place on any such compendium, so feel free to tell us about your own.

Biographies of the many people who, for good or bad and for motives positive and less-positive, figured in the making of Las Vegas can bring even the sturdiest bookshelf to the point of collapse. For readers with neither enough time to read all of them or the bookshelves strong enough to store them, Michael Green, an associate history professor at UNLV, recommends checking out “The First 100: Portraits of the Men and Women Who Shaped Las Vegas” by A.D. Hopkins and K.J. Evans.

Oh, and because no Las Vegas reading list would be complete without a look at entertainment, Schumacher recommends RJ writer Mike Weatherford’s “Cult Vegas: The Weirdest! The Wildest! The Swingen’est Town on Earth!” which, he says, “really captures the ’50s and ’60s and ’70s in terms of Las Vegas and what was happening in the showrooms and lounges here.”


To check out the full list, visit

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