Synopses & Reviews
Advance Praise for Roll the Bones
Roll the Bones is a comprehensive and compelling look at the history of risk-takinga necessary book in our age of plutonium poker, state lotteries, and billion-dollar Internet gaming sites. David Schwartz, a serious historian writing for a general audience, illuminates an urge we feel deep in our cells.
From the Foreword by James McManus, author of Positively Fifth Street
Simultaneously entertaining, informative, and provocative, Roll the Bones looks through the veils of luxury, elegance, and pleasure that surround mankinds obsession with lady luck, to give a panoramic view of generations of gamblers, from the Caesars of Imperial Rome to Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Behind the lively narrative is a mass of information on the origin and rules of most popular games of chance, and a thoughtful analysis of the place of gambling in the 21st century.
Iain Gately, author of Tobacco: A Cultural History of How an Exotic Plant Seduced Civilization
David Schwartz has written a masterful and encyclopedic history of gambling, from hunter- gathering peoples to the tourists on the twenty-first-century Las Vegas Strip. Throughout Schwartz maintains an accessible writing style with plenty of enjoyable anecdotes. Both the professional historian and the average reader will find the work rewarding.
Larry Gragg, author of Englishmen Transplanted and The Salem Witch Crises
Roll the Bones is an impressive telling of our journey with gambling, from its evolutionary beginnings to todaya great read for both the serious student of gambling history and the merely curious. This book will become the gold standard of gambling history.
Crandell Addington, championship poker legend and member of the Poker Hall of Fame
"This comprehensive and often entertaining history of gambling begins with the origins of odds and evens as an ancient divination 'game' and ends with the 21st-century Internet gambling phenomenon. Schwartz, a historian at the University of Nevada's Center for Gaming Research, gets credit not only for his thoroughness in describing the development of gambling in Western Europe and the U.S., but also for including gambling in Native American, Chinese and other non-Western cultures. Similarly inclusive is his examination of the doctrinal attitudes of each of the world's major religions toward the human penchant for gambling. Schwartz adds interesting anecdotes, even if likely apocryphal: aces, for instance, supposedly became superior to kings as a result of 18th-century French revolutionary fervor. But this thoroughness leads Schwartz to devote too much space to the rules of archaic games of chance and to the exploits of famous and not- so-famous gamblers. Although he doesn't ignore the underside such as compulsive gambling and cheating this aspect is underdeveloped. Also, a more in-depth inquiry into why people gamble and the societal impact of government-sponsored gambling, such as lotteries, would have made this encyclopedic effort even more complete." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
The first narrative history of gambling spans the Stone Age to the Internet era, examining how it evolved with--and influenced--human civilization. Halftones throughout. 8-page photo insert.
The first narrative history of gambling, spanning the Stone Age to the Internet era, examining how it evolved withand influencedhuman civilization
In Roll the Bones, historian David G. Schwartz tells the epic story of gambling, beginning with its early emergence from divination rituals and ending with todays global gaming culture. In a sweeping, rollicking narrative, Schwartz looks at the betting games people have played since the dawn of history, and argues convincingly that gambling has always been a crucial part of the human experience.
The book begins with the rolling of knucklebones in prehistoric times, progresses through the casting of lots portrayed in the Bible and sacred Hindu writings, and traces gaming through the heights of the Greek and Roman civilizations. Schwartz continues through the Middle Ages, investigating the mysterious invention of playing cards in twelfth-century China, the birth of the casino and table games such as baccarat in Venice, and the British Empires work in spreading gambling throughout the world. Schwartz describes how lotteries financed some of the first American colonies, how gambling prospered in the Civil War and the Old West, how organized crime exploded in the twentieth century by running illegal gambling operations, and how gambling dollars transformed Las Vegas into the worlds number-one tourist destination. Packed with colorful characters from Julius Caesar to Casanova, George Washington to Steve Wynn, Roll the Bones is an all-in history of humanitys fascination with chance.
The first narrative history of gambling from the Stone Age to the online casino.
About the Author
David G. Schwartz was born in Atlantic City, where he has worked in casino security and surveillance. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, he earned his Ph.D. in United States history from UCLA. He is currently the director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and is the author of the academic books Cutting the Wire and Suburban Xanadu. He is a consultant and frequent commentator on gambling and related issues.