In John L. Smith’s rundown of good Vegas history books, Grandissimo had a positive mention:
Las Vegas has been home to some great characters, and Circus Circus creator Jay Sarno was perhaps the most remarkable. UNLV’s David G. Schwartz tells his story in “Grandissimo: The First Emperor of Las Vegas: How Jay Sarno Won a Casino Empire, Lost It, and Inspired Modern Las Vegas.” Sarno’s life and style were surely a challenge to describe, and Schwartz did an incredible job.
Books on Nevada’s colorful past, cast of characters make great gifts
I’m grateful to John for the kind words. It’s always validating when your work is well received.
Here I am posing with the book at the Caesars store in the Forum Shops.
The store is directly off the casino exit to the Forum Shops. Walk out of the casino, turn right, and you can’t miss it.
Jay Sarno revolutionized Las Vegas with Caesars Palace, so it’s only fitting that Grandissimo is now on sale there. There is some symbolism in the fact that it went on sale yesterday, August 5, which was the 48th anniversary of Caesars’ wild opening—a day that Grandissimo talks about in great detail.
Right now, you can get the book in two locations. The first is the Caesars store in the Forum Shops, just to the right as you exit the casino.
Here is a shot of a few books in their natural setting:
if you’re strolling down the Appian Way, you can pick up a copy at Emperor’s Essentials:
The book is just inside the front door.
I’d like to thank Sherell Bartley at Caesars Entertainment retail and the staff of both stores for making the book available.
For those waiting to buy Grandissimo as an audiobook, you don’t have to wait any longer. Narrated by Eric Martin, the unabridged version of Grandissimo is now available as an 11.5 hour audiobook.
You can listen to a sample and buy it here:
I’d like to thank Eric for helping me realize my dream of offering Grandissimo as an audiobook, and to all of the friends and readers who have given me encouragement. I hope that you enjoy the audiobook.
Forty-eight years ago today, Caesars Palace opened, and Las Vegas never was the same again.
August 5, 1966, was the start of the three-day celebration that introduced the world to Jay Sarno’s vision of Las Vegas. Though there were plenty of skeptics, the opening was a smash and the property never looked back.
Here’s Jay Sarno, in a photo taken the night Caesars opened.
And here’s Nate Jacobson, Jay’s partner and the president of Caesars Palace, with the guest of honor, Jimmy Hoffa.
If you’d like to learn more about that night (and the day that preceded it, here is an excerpt from Grandissimo detailing Jay’s life on August 5, 1966.
And if you like that, you might want to read a copy of the whole book.
I’ve gotten many questions over the past few months about whether Grandissimo will be available as an audiobook. Earlier, I didn’t have an answer. Now, I can definitively answer “yes.”
I’m working with voiceover maven Eric Martin, You can read more about him (and hear him) on his website. Part of the reason that I agreed to work with Eric is the high quality of his work. He’s done this many times before, and will deliver a high-quality audio version of my words. I think the readers (or, in this case, listeners) deserve nothing less.
I don’t have a firm release date yet, but Eric has finished through chapter 8, so things look good for sometime late in August.
It’s very gratifying to see the support and interest that the book has gotten thus far, and I’m grateful to Eric for his belief that this will make a compelling audiobook.
Stay posted for updates!
I have a little piece on UNLV’s Newscenter about why it’s important to preserve the past:
Since my latest book, Grandissimo, came out, people have asked me why I wrote it. The simple answer is that Jay Sarno was the most interesting person in Las Vegas history not to have a book already written about him. But the process of researching and writing it reminded me of how important it is to preserve our past — even the parts that don’t seem immediately important.
via On Writing Grandissimo | UNLV News Center
There’s also a hint about a project I’m currently working on, if you are interested.
I was honored to take part in the first Local Authors Panel as part of the big collection launch at the Paseo Verde Library on March 8. The panel was a fun, hour-long conversation about writing and Las Vegas.
If you weren’t part of the crowd, you can now see it in its entirety right here (sorry, I couldn’t find an embed option).
It was a good time had by all, and I’m hoping to take part in more events in the future.
If you missed your chance to get a signed copy of Grandissimo at one of the many events that I’ve been at lately, I have good news: there are several signed copies available for purchase at the Barnes and Noble on 567 N. Stephanie (info and directions). And here’s a picture of me signing one of them:
Thanks to everyone at the store who made this happen. I was very happy to hear that the book is selling well.
If you can’t find Grandissimo at your favorite bookseller yet, please ask them to stock it. Thanks!
The Sarno Roundtable event went off on Sunday at Lied Library. It was a tremendous experience, but don’t take my word for it. Here’s what KSNV has to say:
You can access that report here if the embedded video isn’t happening: Biography profiles Caesars Palace developer Jay Sarno
The Las Vegas Sun also covered the event:
David Schwartz, director of UNLV’s Center for Gaming, moderated the panel through discussions of Sarno’s life in Las Vegas during the 1960s. The panel members talked about Sarno’s court battles with the FBI, his legacy on the Strip and his eccentric lifestyle that made him a divisive figure in Las Vegas.
“There was nobody in Las Vegas who was neutral on the subject of Jay Sarno,” Schwartz said. “People loved him and people couldn’t stand him. There was no middle.”
Jay Sarno remembered for doing ‘something nobody had ever done before’
But you don’t have to take their word for it—you can listen to the entire roundtable right here, since it’s now a UNLV Gaming Podcast.
I’d like to thank everyone from Lied Library who helped plan and run the event, all of the panelists for showing up and being so candid, and everyone who attended. It was truly a great night, and a sign of just how important Jay Sarno was to the development of Las Vegas.