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Tony meanwhile moved out to Vegas as the head of a crew who would bust into safes and run small-time fleecing operations, but his notoriety eventually hurt both Lefty's and the mob's prospects.
Yet before an unrelated Kansas-City murder case, the insane note-keeping habits of Kansas mobman Carl Deluna, and bug opened up the whole operation, the mafia in Las Vegas was "skimming" billions a year from casinos and running much of the town.
Of course, this book was later turned into a classic Martin Scorsese movie of the same name, which is very faithful to it, but the book does give one a better window into the mechanics and funding of the mob, and how it grew to almost unimaginable wealth and power.
It's a great story. 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.
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 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.
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.
While the names in the film were changed Lefty became "Ace" and Tony became "Nicky" I was surprised by how closely the movie stuck to the actual events.
The film, though, benefited from the fictitious POV of Nicky, whereas the book wasn't so lucky as the real life Tony Spilotro much like his filmic counterpart - spoilers was murdered before he could ever have the opportunity to tell his side of the story.
Anything we know about Tony is gleaned from the people who best knew him. As it is this, the book is very interesting at parts, but also felt a bit slow.
This is one of those rare moments where I'd advise people to see the movie instead. Even if the film sensationalizes the true events to a degree, it's mostly faithful, and just much more entertaining.
View 1 comment. 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 year old daughter, her sister, and her mother.
What I thought was amazing was how much money was moving th Another case of the book being better than the movie. What I thought was amazing was how much money was moving through Vegas, even back in the 60's and 70's.
No wonder the crime syndicates foamed at the mouth over that place. Another thing that the movie never addressed was how many other casinos in Vegas were being skimmed on a regular basis.
In addition to The Stardust, the "takes" at Tropicana and The Sands were getting skimmed during those times - in addition to a lot of other smaller places.
This was a very good book that I would recommend highly. However, if you have a problem with profanity, you may want to reconsider reading it. 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?
It takes this book to give you the real names, actions an If you saw the movie based on this book it is a must read.
It takes this book to give you the real names, actions and outcomes in clinical and fascinating detail.
You will notice where film and fact deviate. Pileggi interviewed the few "surviving" participants and came up with a compelling book. Geri McGee, "Lefty" Rosenthal's wife was a dittzy bimbo who slept around, and he loved her to distraction.
Tony Spilatro and his brother did end-up face down in a cornfield. What we think of cliche sometimes comes out to be the real thing Sep 17, Johnny Moscato 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 After reading and loving Wiseguy, Casino was a huge disappointment.
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 quoted.
Content-wise, the book is boring. There's only two stories- bad guys beating their women and stealing from casinos- repeated over and over and over.
Every time you think the story is building to something interesting, it just turns out to be the same old junk. Save yourself the time- watch the movie, pass on the book.
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 In this book, Pileggi relates the story of the last days of mob control of Las Vegas casinos, specifically the Stardust.
Although the last chapter is somewhat in need of an update Las Vegas has reinvented itself numerous times since the end of the mob and the "high roller" culture , it was a nice coda.
What an insane book! It's crazy thinking how the Mafia was operating there. Made me think a lot about Vegas 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. Nov 11, Martin Imaani rated it it was amazing.
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Too dry and force. The mob would not approve. Jul 25, Clem rated it it was ok Shelves: non-fiction. Like most people, I probably would not have read this book had I not seen the wonderful Martin Scorsese movie of the same name.
I thought it was poorly written and am quite surprised how Scorsese managed to take something like this and turn it into such a beautiful piece of cinematic art.
That says a lot of a film director. S Like most people, I probably would not have read this book had I not seen the wonderful Martin Scorsese movie of the same name.
Scorsese takes a lot of liberty with the script and, for whatever reason, he changes all the names of the real people.
Speaking of character names, this is by far the biggest weakness of this entire book. For whatever reason, author Pileggi feels obligated to name every single minor character in the book.
Also in the car was Mark Dillon who John knew since high school. After a while, your brain starts to automatically tune out these superfluous names as soon as you come across them.
This was a big, big hindrance for me. This book seems more of anecdotal recollection of many of the mob personalities that are closely related to the key players.
Again, the movie tended to do this, but when you have a master like Martin Scorsese, he can take all of this jumbled information and still tell a decent story while making sense out of all of muddled stories and episodes that are randomly thrown at us.
Other times, the author includes things such as entire transcripts of police reports, entire court transcriptions, and entire news stories verbatim.
Yet right in the middle of this drama, Pileggi haphazardly includes the arrest report and it seems to throw the drama off too much.
I think that the approach that the author should have taken would have been to not include so many verbatim interviews that he conducted with related individuals, and instead try to incorporate the stories into an easy flowing narrative.
He should have then maybe included an appendix with this multitude of individuals instead of flooding his readers with this information throughout the story.
I must confess that as I write this review, the vast majority of other reviewers on Amazon have given this book a very high rating.
Oh well, it did lead to a great movie. From my book blog www. Pileggi co-wrote the film and it won Sharon the Golden Globe. A terrific movie, but there is even more dirt in this true account of Mafia involvement in 's Las Vegas casinos.
After some backstory on Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal and Anthony "Tony the Ant" Spilotro growing up in Chicago, the Mob installs Rosenthal in the Stardust and other Vegas casinos to protect and increase the 'skim' operations.
Everyone from the dealers and floor bosses to the count room to casino wide operations worked the skim - slipping wads of cash into their pockets.
Reservations would delete rooms paid by cash, gardeners would sell the same palm multiple times without buying a tree, blackjack dealers would pocket chips and the metal safe boxes would be cleaned out before arriving at the secured count room.
As long as the Chicago bosses got the main cut no one made waves. Backed by Teamsters Pension Funds and a Gaming Board approved front man as the face of the casino, Rosenthal ran the operation sharp and hands-on while there was a hiatus in law enforcement.
Tony Spilotro was a low level mobster into local burglaries and loan sharking who moved in and believed he ran the town through intimidation - whether he had any real power was mute if he wanted you killed.
Although they grew up together, Rosenthal resented being attached to Tony. It was bad for business.
Geri was a gorgeous showgirl and hooker who enamoured Rosenthal and they began a tortuous marriage of fighting and reuniting. Despite the millions in cash and jewelry, Geri had addiction problems that would eventually tear them apart.
Her affair with Tony did not help. We were given paradise on earth, but we fucked it all up. The ingenious ways the mob developed for skimming made everyone millionaires until their hubris imploded the works.
Covering the growth of major casinos throughout the 's, this is completely fascinating. It would be interesting to read a follow up analysis of modern Las Vegas as the junk bond corporations moved in following the mobsters - another story of fakery and money juggling, I am sure.
Casino is the kind of true crime investigation you can easily read again. Highly recommended. Pileggi's novel Wiseguy was also adapted into the Scorsese film GoodFellas.
Sep 24, Kris 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 I knew the minute Sharon Stone threw those chips in the air in the movie Casino that I was going to love this movie.
This allows the reader to set off exploring more about the real people online and pull up pictures to match names and faces. Of course, you can always use Pesci, DeNiro and Stone as the faces and still be ok.
But in the glory days, it was organized crime, primarily out of Los Angeles and Chicago, who owned Vegas.
Lefty Rosenthal was a handicapper, bookmaker and odds man, trusted by the mob to go out to Vegas and run the Stardust and Hacienda Hotels.
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