Patterson and Seal bring us inside tales of those who have made the nation’s entertainment capital their home, focusing on the “endless battalions who build, service, and maintain the perpetually expanding facilities; the dealers and croupiers who run the games; the international superchefs, cocktail wizards, and servers who fortify the multitudes; the dazzling superstars of stage, screen, nightclub, and stripper pole; the pilots, limo drivers, and cabbies who keep the city on the move.” This is a book full of zippy profiles of success and struggle on a variety of socioeconomic levels, as the authors introduce us to a host of interesting characters: Charolette Richards, a plucky entrepreneur who opened the first drive-through wedding chapel; Chundrea Gardner, an elite yoga instructor who flies his clients by helicopter for open-air classes in the Mojave Desert; Kaitlyn, a 21-year-old nursing student who made a small fortune as an exotic dancer; and Shin Lim, a former concert pianist who rose from obscurity to score a residency position as a magician at the Mirage. There is nothing that feels especially insightful or surprising about these biographical sketches, but they make for energetic reading. The writing moves along briskly to create a pleasant—if blinkered and sentimental—panorama of the city’s vitality and its potential for fulfilling the most outlandish fantasies. Readers will gain a dynamic sense of how the city channels extraordinary flows of money and hope through its complex infrastructure, nourishing seductive promises amid sparkling eclecticism. This is a book about positive outcomes—or gambles that paid off—and the authors offer very little commentary about Vegas’ role in generating misery through excess and, often, exploitation. For those intrigued by such a viewpoint, the entertainment value is high.

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