Beyond The Mafia - Italian Americans and the Development of Las Vegas is Alan Balboni's look at the Italian-American experience in the Southern Nevada town of Las Vegas. Balboni examines the migration of Italian Americans to Las Vegas, especially in the years following World War II, and the role they played in developing the city - especially the casino resort industry.
- Written by Alan Balboni, professor of history and political science at the Community College of Southern Nevada.
- Well researched and written, the author conducted over 150 interviews with local Las Vegas Italian Americans
- Scholarly work with notes and a full index
- Beyond the Mafia as a title is misleading
- Author writes about outstanding Italian Americans who owned Las Vegas casinos in one section but nearly denies their existence in other sections
- The author states "While Las Vegas remained essentially a city whose inhabitants were willing to forget past transgressions of the law or social mores, Nevada gaming regulators were not so inclined, and the burden fell heavily on Italian Americans." That seems like an over simplification of the Nevada Black Book. Other authors acknowledge that the establishment of the Gaming Control Board in 1955 and the Gaming Control Acts of 1957 and 1959 were a necessary move by the state of Nevada to govern, enforce, and license its casinos.
- Little substance is provided about actual expertise provided by Italian American casino managers - only that they were experienced
- Beyond The Mafia was released by the University of Nevada Press in hardback in 1996. A paperback edition was released in 2006
- 176 pages with a two-dozen photos
Guide Review - 'Beyond The Mafia' by Alan Balboni - Book Review
Beyond The Mafia is a scholarly look at "Italian Americans and the development of Las Vegas. The book is a narrative of the migration of Italian Americans to the town of Las Vegas and a celebration of the success they found in the city, often in the casino industry.
The book is well researched, and the author notes that he interviewed over 150 Italian Americans and some of their stories are presented. However, little is provided beyond names, dates and job titles, which leaves the reader wondering what their actual experiences were and whether they were happy or not. There is no meat on the bone.
Las Vegas, while not without Italian Americans before World War II, certainly saw a great influx after the Kefauver hearings in the early 1950's which shut down illegal gambling in many states. Balboni does not mention Kefauver, but many experienced casino employees did move to Las Vegas, and many were of Italian Americans. Although many had worked in illegal casinos they were accepted in Las Vegas.Best Intentions
The author mentions in the preface that he had trouble obtaining some interviews because some Italian American executives he contacted "were concerned that, my protestations to the contrary, I was planning to write yet another sensational book about the Mafia in Las Vegas." If the author was truly worried about how the book would be received, then perhaps the title should not have been Beyond the Mafia. As a sociological study of Italian Americans who moved to Las Vegas, the book certainly succeeds.
Available at many bookstores or direct from the University of Nevada Press.