Published on 16 April 2017 by Rachel
Gambling and casinos have been the inspiration for all kinds of creative expression, including music, film and literature. Today we will be looking into the most famous casino-related books ever written. So the next time you’re browsing your local book shop, consider picking one of these up and reading about this fascinating industry and the culture that goes with it.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
This American classic takes the reader on a drug-addled, booze-soaked road trip, one that has been burned into the annals of pop culture as one of the most bizarre journeys ever undertaken. Thompson, credited with the creation of gonzo journalism, uses his unique style to describe the moral degradation and political mess the US found itself in. This book captures the essence of Las Vegas, that mecca of light, gambling, glitz and that subtle undertone of depravity.
Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
A list about casino-related things wouldn’t be complete without a mention of 007 and his daring adventures. In Casino Royale, Fleming’s very first James Bond novel, our dapper Mr Bond takes on the villain, Le Chiffre, in a high-stakes baccarat game at a casino in France. Bond and his sidekick Vesper Lynd must try to bankrupt the cruel Le Chiffre, in the face of some terrible odds. The 1953 book was also made into a movie, released in 2006, starring Daniel Craig and Eva Green.
Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas by Nicholas Pileggi
This book brought the gambling underworld of Las Vegas, complete with betrayals, passion and crime, to the general public. Pileggi’s 1995 non-fiction book, about a pair of mobsters trying to survive in the centre of the casino world, is gripping and intense, all the more because it is a retelling of events that actually took place. His previous book, Wiseguy, became the basis for the award-winning movie Goodfellas.
The Gambler by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Written in 1867, The Gambler is a short story inspired by Dostoyevsky’s own gambling problems. The story is about a young man, employed as a tutor by a formerly wealthy Russian family. It deals with the protagonist’s attempts to escape a cycle of debt, into which he continues to descend thanks to his love for the roulette table. A cautionary tale for any gambler, even in the 21st century.
Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling by David G. Schwartz
Gambling has been around, in one shape or another, for thousands of years. Archaeologists have found evidence of games of chance dating back to the Stone Age and every major civilization in the world has created their own ways to enjoy the risk of gambling. This book follows the evolution of gambling, from its very early beginnings all the way to the internet age. A fascinating read that argues that gambling has always been an integral part of the human experience.