‘The Players’ Edited by Jack Sheehan – Book Review

‘The Players’ Edited by Jack Sheehan – Book Review
The Players The Men Who Made Las Vegas is a compilation of short biographies of the casino industry’s most powerful and influential owners. Jack Sheehan edited this group of fourteen chapters about early Las Vegas, its first and most powerful casino owners, and some of the men, like Steve Wynn, who have a continuing influence on how the city grows and is seen by the rest of the world.

High Points

Well written chapters without unnecessary fluff

Well researched content

Many of the biographies are from actual interviews of the subjects

Low Points

A bit of a hodge podge of casino owners included

Very few photos and virtually none of early Las Vegas

Book doesn’t know when to end gracefully and lumbers on for two unnecessary chapters


The Players – The Men Who Made Las Vegas was first released by the University of Nevada Reno in 1997. The book runs 211 pages with a full index. It is available at bookstores, online, and direct from the University of Nevada Press website.

Guide Review – ‘The Players’ Edited by Jack Sheehan – Book Review

The Players begins with a few words by editor Jack Sheehan and moves on to chapter one where Sergio Lalli’s first contribution, “a Peculiar Institution,” explains early Las Vegas and the Mob. His concise and well-written description of a town in search of an identity during the the 1930’s and 1940’s is excellent.

In a nearly perfect way, Lalli explains the town of Las Vegas, how the casinos grew, how the Gaming Control Board came about, and why it was necessary. Lalli also provides a chapter on Cliff Jones and one on Howard Hughes. The author’s words are the best in the book.

In chapter eight, editor Jack Sheehan tells the reader abut the life of Sam Boyd and his contributions to Las Vegas and casinos like the Sahara and the Mint. Son Bill Boyd provided glimpses of his father, as well a look at his own career in the casino industry.

Contributing author Mark Seal also provides a revealing look at Steve Wynn, who got his start in 1967 by buying-in to the new Frontier casino for $45,000. His tiny 3-percent stake helped him get started on a path to being the best-known casino owner in the world.

This is a commendable book, and the short biographies explain how Las Vegas grew, and who the real movers and shakers were. It does not cover the casinos with photos the way Nevada’s Golden Age of Gambling does, but a realism not found in other works is presented because the chapters were written after interviews with the subjects.

The book is well-worth reading and although the final two chapters are unnecessary, readers may still find a gem or two in them.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.