Skip to main content

Desert Bloom

June 2024
1min read

The Best Writing About America’s Most Fabulous City


edited by Mike Tromes, Henry Holt, 358 pages .

Whether they made the trip to Las Vegas expecting Paradise or a war zone, not one of the twenty-six writers in this collection failed to be mesmerized by Bugsy Siegel’s gaudy oasis. In the fifty years since ground was broken for Siegel’s Flamingo Hotel (and Vegas itself), the mobster’s resort has grown into a corporate-owned vacation center; kids fill hotel pools once reserved for call girls. This volume contains Tom Wolfe’s 1964 portrait of the place, a big chunk of Hunter S. Thompson’s 1971 book, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas , and surprising pieces by A. J. Liebling, Alan Richman, and Michael Herr, who feels the city reached a cultural peak in the early sixties when Sinatra and his Rat Pack friends ruled the Strip. The English writer A. Alvarez focuses minutely on the contestants in the World Series of Poker, drawing out gamblers’ stories that are both cautionary and inspiring. Joan Didion takes on another native industry—the Vegas quickie wedding; Susan Herman brings the town back to its roots with her “Memoirs of a Gangster’s Daughter.” Literary Las Vegas catches all the lurid colors of the town.

Enjoy our work? Help us keep going.

Now in its 75th year, American Heritage relies on contributions from readers like you to survive. You can support this magazine of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it by donating today.

Donate