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Neon Metropolis: How Las Vegas Started the Twenty-First Century (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – Februar 2002

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"(Rothman) treasures the moment when Jerry Tarkanian (a towel-chewing stoic) took his Runnin' Rebels to the N.C.A.A. basketball finals, and defeated Duke, despite the "snotty" sign borne by some Duke supporters: "Welcome, fellow student-athletes." This informative and useful book comes loaded...there is a wealth of practical detail....This book will teach you something startling on nearly every page."
-New York Times Book Review
"A brilliant interpretation of the supernova of American Cities."
-Mike Davis, author of "City of Quartz
"In this thoughtful study, Rothman provides a detailed history of a uniquely American city. The subject of urban planning and design is enriched by Rothman's focus on the social history of the city, including its architecture, economics, government, labor issues, transportation, environmental policy, and immigration situation....His empathetic exploration of working class Latino lives is especially rewarding."
-Library Journal
"Rothman masterfully melds painstaking research, relevant anecdotes and well-chosen interviews to illuminate large social, economic and cultural themes and show where they fit into Las Vegas. Unlike others who have tried to capture the city, Rothman doesn't traffic in conspiracy theories or florid prose to make Las Vegas seem larger or darker than life. Instead, he has produced a sprightly written book that took him out of the ivory tower and onto the streets to produce a compelling and accurate picute of the Neon Metropolis."
-Jon Ralston
"Most of the information we receive about modern places is as ignorant as it is superficial, and yet from the very capital of superficiality and glitz, Las Vegas, HalRothman has paradoxically delivered a book that is engaged, funny, smart and historically informed. Las Vegas, Rothman tells us, represents socially sanctioned deviance. The deviance in Neon Metropolis we expect to find, but Rothman delivers much more. This is a book about changing American culture and the surprising ways that Las Vegas, which is different from the rest of America, reveals so much about the United States in a new century."
-Richard White, Stanford University


Neon Metropolis offers a panoramic, entertaining account of contemporary Las Vegas, long America's capital of excess and now its fastest growing city. Combining a history of the city's growth via gambling and crime, with a richly descriptive social portrait of contemporary Las Vegas, author Hal Rothman shows how the city has shed its stigma as "Sin City", and is now setting the pace for nationwide trends in leisure, work, consumption, immigration, demographics, and city growth. Las Vegas' transition from isolated gambling outpost to its new status of "the first city of the twenty-first century" has not been without problems - rapid growth has been accompanied by sprawl, traffic jams, environmental problems and an invasion by corporate interests. Ultimately, as Neon Metropolis amply documents, the problems and opportunities facing Las Vegas are ones that, increasingly, confront all of America.

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Amazon.com: HASH(0x9b140cf0) von 5 Sternen 18 Rezensionen
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HASH(0x9b7b9f9c) von 5 Sternen Neon Metropolis 28. Oktober 2002
Von Alan Hess - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
An insightful work. Neon Metropolis is an essential antidote to the many critics who fly to Las Vegas for a quick visit, and leave with biases undisturbed and nothing useful to say.
What sets Rothman apart? He combines academic investigation with close observation, over time, of how this resort town is turning into one of the most successful and popular cities in the United States.
Key to the success of this book is the fact that Rothman lives in this city, where he teaches history at UNLV. He has lived in the brand new subdivisions which excite the derision of tourist-critics who cannot fathom that such planned communities could be anything other than hideously pathological. Rothman, on the other hand, has watched these communities grow with time. His children have played in the nascent sports leagues; he has ridden the mass transit; he has seen how people carve a real community to raise families - for two or three generations now - out of unconventional and even unlikely material. He has tracked political movements and talked to his neighbors at Starbucks. And while these communities may not be perfect - Rothman has an academic's balanced powers of evaluation - they do work. This information is of wider interest as well; Rothman discusses the many ways that Las Vegas is a prototype in developing the emerging urban-suburban cities that we find across the nation.
This book reveals an intriguing urban landscape. We learn how the earlier Las Vegas of the Mob shaped not only its gambling economy, but created its hospitals, churches and other institutional urban infrastructure. We then learn how the Las Vegas of Wall Street (after Hilton, Holiday Inn and other corporations became the major stakeholders) built the foundations for the enormous growth in size, prestige and influence over the last twenty years.
Along the way we see how the many threads of a real city - unions, immigrants, a strong middle-class economy, civic and business leaders, and the city's self-conceptions - have been woven together. Rothman helpfully compares Las Vegas to Detroit's growth along with another booming new industry earlier in the century.
This book is a dose of well-researched reality which should be read by anyone concerned with the health and direction of American cities.
8 von 9 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9b400b4c) von 5 Sternen Las Vegas Economically Malleable? NOT! 15. März 2004
Von Ein Kunde - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
One of the central theses of this book is that Las Vegas has miraculously "adopted" to the changing economy and has thus prospered more than other major U.S. cities by taking advantage of emerging social and economic trends. The author imagines that Las Vegas is some sort of highly malleable economic miracle machine that rolls with the punches, survives and prospers hugely while other places dependant on more recession-sensitive industries such as technology, manufacturing, and medical research ebb and flow. What nonsense!
Las Vegas, and to an even greater extent its cradle of growth Clark County, have never adopted to ANY emerging economic trend, unless you count the undesirable trend of industrial-scale gaming penetration together with huge resort casinos into every corner of the city, including formerly-protected residential neighborhoods. Quite the contrary, the city has never done anything other than repackage marketing themes that sell gambling and an increasingly aggressive sex industry, advertisements for which pervade just about available public space one views from an automobile. Hide you eyes, kids!
Las Vegas' economic success is certainly not based on economic malleability and adaptability. It is based on 30 years worth of cheap housing, abundant low wage jobs, weak consumer protection, and almost non-existent restraints on development of raw land. Throw in a state and a county government run for the benefit of the gaming industry and developers and voila! The "city of the future", is a vast wasteland of cookie-cutter housing tracts, endless strip malls, and a urban facade often described as "franchise architecture". This is not my vision of a desirable future. And increasingly, many observers in southern Nevada are beginning to realize that Las Vegas is rapidly becoming unlivable due to the city's rush into this future.
For those who have not moved to this place yet, let's hope that Las Vegas is not the future of American urban life, but will remain what is has always been: an aberration maintained solely by unrestrained growth and legalized gambling.
8 von 9 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9b5f8c30) von 5 Sternen Life behind the Strip 1. März 2004
Von saskatoonguy - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
Although the author covers the history of Las Vegas, this book is mainly about its current growing pains. The county's rapid growth has made it impossible for schools and other institutions to keep pace with population, and the social fabric of Las Vegas is frail because so many residents are recent arrivals. Regional planning is a joke because the local government is under the thumb of developers, and no one in government wants to do anything that would raise taxes or raise housing costs. The end result is a place where even a hotel chambermaid can enjoy a pleasant middle-class lifestyle. Rothman, a history professor at UNLV, spices his book with first-person stories, such as how a friendship with a family on the other side of I-15 gradually fell apart as the driving time to visit them became longer and longer.
This is a far superior book than Rothman's "The Grit Beneath the Glitter," which was a collection of essays. However, the flaw of both books is Rothman's over-the-top praise of organized labor. Granted, unions have provided many Vegas workers with a high standard of living, but it's really hard to believe (as Rothman claims) that employers are grateful to be unionized and grateful for the rule that the union - not the employer - chooses whom to hire.
I was surprised that another reviewer criticized Rothman for being an overly optimistic booster, because I thought the tone of the book was rather negative. When I've visited Las Vegas, I've always thought it would be an awful place to live, and Rothman's book confirms my impression. (Of course, Las Vegas residents probably think I'm nuts for living in Saskatchewan.) This would be an excellent book for any tourist who has a serious interest in what happens beyond the strip.
Also, many of the pathologies of Las Vegas are coming soon to a city near you. One of the book's more memorable passages is that, based on demographic projections, the future consists of latino service employees waiting on cranky old white people, which is hardly healthy for the fabric of society.
3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9b485330) von 5 Sternen Rothman hits but also misses 22. Oktober 2007
Von M. Agosta - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
Rothman does a nice job pointing out what has proven to be the very effective economic engine of the modern American service industry. When organized labor meets the lucrative tourist industry, wages for folks with a high school education can indeed be quite solid. For those here that doubt the role of organized, unionized labor, simply compare the economy of southern Nevada to southern Louisiana. While New Orleans has a strong gaming industry, wages are bad, and poverty profoundly rampant. On this point, Professor Rothman is correct: Las Vegas, with it's robust mix of service economy and unionizatin, could point the way to the future.

Professor Rothman does, however, tend to gloss over the nagging social ills inherent with the gaming industry. In particular, Nevada has spectacular suicide and divorce rates, sky-high spousal abuse and very, very high teenage dropout rates (comparable to inner city neighborhoods in east coast cities). He also misses the biggest problem of all: chronic gambling addiction among many casino workers and the wholesale, even arrogant, failure of the gaming industry to address the problem.

It is somewhat ironic that Rothman, who does indeed have a background in environmental history, ignores many of Las Vegas' environmental issues. The vast sprawl of Las Vegas may well NOT be sustainable in an age of skyrocketing oil prices; a large percentage of Las Vegas visitors still arrive by car from Southern California, relying on an increasingly clogged 4 lane interstate (I-15). The city itself relies on just one pipeline to bring gasoline to the valley from southern California and local fuel prices are threatening to reach dangerously historic highs this year.

Rothman is also blithely unconcerned about water. Climate Change is predicted to make the US southwest far drier than it is today. Indeed, the region is currently suffering under a years-long drought that has taken reservoirs to insidiously low levels. Both Lake Meade, just an hour's drive south of the city, and Lake Powell, between central Arizona and central Utah, are at dangerous, historically low levels. Despite extremely strict residential water usage restrictions in southern Nevada, lack of water could well derail growth in the Las Vegas metropolitan area within the next decade, particularly if the current drought persists.

Rothman's anecdotes often miss serious underlying sociological issues. Sure, you can find stories of community in virtually any city or neighborhood, but Rothman's often cutsy anecodotes miss the big picture. The state suffers an intense brain drain. Many of it's young residents leave state to attend college and if they receive a master's degree or higher, very few will ever return. The city is profoundly transient, and the exaggerated suburban sprawl of the new "instant city" variety has its drawbacks.

The average tenure of home ownership is very brief in Las Vegas: even residents who live their entire lives in the city tend to move once or twice to flee declining neighborhoods. Shiny new (but rapidly and poorly constructed) suburban tracts fall from middle to working class and even into crime-ridden lower working class neighborhoods in 25 years or less. Rings of impoverished, aging inner suburbs are causing grief for city planners as the middle class flees a growing core of decaying housing for newer digs in the outer sprawl. In eastern cities, historic buildings and brownstones in the inner core drew a new generation of college educated adults willing to restore and rediscover neighborhoods. Cookie-cutter, cinder block nightmare neighborhoods, thrown together by careless contractors in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s are less easily renovated or rediscovered.

Finally, Rothman misses the macro-economic taxation issues. Because Nevada relies almost solely on the gaming and sales taxes to run the state, the state is extremely vulnerable should a real recession hit.

Rothman, ultimately, misses as much as he hits. The landbreaking sociological study of the modern gaming town, sadly, remains to be written.
5 von 6 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9b3c59c0) von 5 Sternen Does Not Reflect Las Vegas' Deep Seated Problems 9. November 2003
Von Ein Kunde - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
READER NOTE: See the New York Times article ([...]) of 5/30/04 for independent corroboration of my review, written approximately 6 months earlier.
This book is a good read, successfully revising many of the standard clich?s about Las Vegas, and therefore is a welcome change from so much superficial writing. However, like much of the blatant boosterim that passes for news about Las Vegas, the book essentially ignores the myriad deep-seated social problems out-of-state readers will not be aware of. Nevada in general and Las Vegas in particular are at or near the bottom in many indicators of public life, environmental, and educational health and wellness. The state has even been referred to as the "Alabama of the West" because of its weak state government, relatively poor public health, and poor per capita finance for secondary and higher education. As a practical matter, due to local governments that fail to place even slight restrictions on growth, the Las Vegas Valley is a currently a seething caldron of runaway development, overcrowded schools, roadways approaching gridlock, and increasing water shortages. A pall of dust and smog frequently obscure the surrounding mountains, a direct result of explosive and largely unplanned growth. Rothman's book is entertaining and illuminating about the Las Vegas urban culture. However, it fails to rigorously examine severe underlying problems that heavily influence the quality of present and future life in Las Vegas, in favor of unfounded admiration cloaked in academic-style historical analysis.
A few examples:
? Las Vegas has the highest rate of high school dropouts in the U.S. entering its labor force.
? Las Vegas has one of the lowest percentages of persons in the U.S. with bachelors degrees, given the size of its population, in its labor force. As a University of Nevada - Las Vegas sociologist recently said, you don't think of highly educated people when you think of Las Vegas.
? Las Vegas and Nevada have one of the highest rate of childhood dental problems.
? Las Vegas and Nevada have one of the highest suicide rates and AIDS infection rates in the U.S.
? Las Vegas and southern Nevada have no public mental health hospitals.
? Southern Nevada's only Level I trauma recently closed, but later opened after state intervention, due to physicians leaving the state because of malpractice premiums.
? Three Clark County, Nevada commissioners are facing federal charges for accepting bribes to aid the owner of a local strip club. One other has accepted plea bargains on a similar charge.
? After years of rhetoric about the need to diversity its economy, Las Vegas is more than ever wedded to and dependant on the gaming industry. Other western cities (Albuquerque, Boulder, Salt Lake City, Phoenix) are far ahead in luring technology-based businesses.
This old problem is rooted in the state's lack of a recognized research university coupled with a somewhat accurate image among the sophisticated technology industry as an unimaginative playground of retirees, second-rate schools, gambling, booze, and the flamboyant sex-as-spectacle tourism industry. Can these built-in barriers to becoming a city recognized for something other than slot machines at car washes ever be overcome? This book is completely silent on that topic. So, read this book, but bear in mind Las Vegas and Nevada continue to be places with long standing social, political, economic, educational, and environmental shortcomings usually ignored or not even acknowleged by the elected leadership.
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