Las Vegas is the most iconic city on earth. And to understand what makes it tick, you first need to understand the circumstances of its history. Understand the people who gave the city its personality and set in motion the evolutionary process toward what the former railroad water stop would eventually become.

Las Vegas’ brief history has been misrepresented in movies and on television to the point where most people believe the sensationalized fiction to be fact. These five non-fiction books offer a good head start at setting the record straight.

THE MAN WHO INVENTED LAS VEGAS by W.R. Wilkerson III(Ciro’s Books, 2000) — This book effectively debunks the myth that gangster Bugsy Siegel built the Flamingo Hotel and gave birth to the Las Vegas Strip.

THE GREEN FELT JUNGLE by Ed Reid & Ovid Demaris (Buccaneer Books, 1963) — Providing documented evidence, this book caused a sensation as the first to expose Las Vegas as a front for organized crime.

BIG JULIE OF VEGAS by Edward Linn (Walker Publishing, 1974) — The ultimate casino insider covers all the angles with anecdotes from the wild 1960s high roller junkets to the Dunes.

HOWARD HUGHES: Power, Paranoia & Palace Intrigue by Geoff Schumacher (Stephens Press, 2008) — This biography does a great job of separating fact from fiction in chronicling the life and times of the ultimate Las Vegas legend.

CASINO: Love And Honor In Las Vegas by Nicholas Pileggi (Simon & Schuster, 1995) — The notorious tale of betrayal and greed among the mobsters who screwed up a sure thing and changed the casino business forever.

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