Book Review: “What Really Happens in Vegas: True Stories of the People Who Make Vegas, Vegas” by James Patterson

‘What Really Happens in Vegas” was published in December of 2023

This modern history book gives readers a history about the last 20 years and that’s fine. Las Vegas is no longer a “cheap place to visit and a gambling town.” Las Vegas is the “entertainment capital of the world”, a dining and shopping Mecca and yes, a gambling town. Las Vegas is a constantly changing community and this new book does share some stories and insights.

James Patterson and Mark Seal collaborated by gathering together a series of stories, What Really Happens in Vegas: True Stories of the People Who Make Vegas, Vegas about people who have made a difference in Las Vegas and why. We don’t read much about entertainers, but people whose names many local residents know as being important. The chapter headings are a bit of a mystery–it’s read and find out.

When we read, we learn about the 25 dive-certified crew members who perform the maintenance of the Bellagio fountains. We also read the observations of a chauffeur to big gamblers. We are also told about Steve Wynn and his idea of bringing higher caliber services to Las Vegas and his “discovery” of Cirque du Soleil. There is a tale about Charlotte Richards, “the wedding queen of the West,” and former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman whose idea for a Mob Museum was originally considered foolhardy.

And there’s more: the origin of the “What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas” line, the influence of Elaine Wynn, the fear associated with the sky jump at the Strat, the columnist that everyone reads, John Katsilometes, one man’s “crazy” idea for a shopping mall at Caesar’s Palace, the saga of a slot machine player, the bringing of opera to Las Vegas, the Maloof family, Elvis Presley tribute artist Jesse Garon and another ground breaker, Derek Stevens. Wow….lots has happened.

The stories are easy reading and a great many references to previous articles on particular subjects are mentioned. If a reader is new to Las Vegas, I recommend this book so the newcomer is more or less up-to-date. However, the history of old Las Vegas should be on the reading list as well. Residents who welcome visitors to town might also want a copy of the book for their visitors to read.

No doubt, Las Vegas IS an interesting town.


One response on “Book Review: “What Really Happens in Vegas: True Stories of the People Who Make Vegas, Vegas” by James Patterson

  1. Of course, the reality of this book is that the only like role that James Patterson had in creating it was to get to paid for his byline. “James Patterson” is a marketing brand like Hershey or Chevrolet or Mars, he hasn’t had much of an author role in any of the recent spate of books where he is credited with a byline. Mark Seal is the author who shepherded this book into being.

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