Front Cover

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Title Page

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Contents

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p. v

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Foreword

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pp. vii-xii

Hal K. Rothman held the title of distinguished professor of history at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), when he died in February 2007, at the age of 48, after a courageous battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Lou Gehrig’s disease. A testament to his legendary scholarly productivity, The Making of Modern Nevada is...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-2

Nevada was always different from other American states. Larger in size and more varied in landscape than most of its peers, yet among the most sparsely populated, the state promised wide-open spaces but its people overwhelmingly clustered in urban areas. Arid in a society that valued humidity and wetness, and bleak by the visual...

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1. A Light Hand on a Difficult Land: European Exploration

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pp. 3-17

As the nineteenth century dawned, the historic condition of much of Nevada remained as it had been for hundreds of years. The major native groups that lived in large parts of the region that would later form the state continued their subsistence ways, largely without participating in the great changes taking place...

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2. Making a Territory and a State

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pp. 18-42

The road to territorial and eventual state status for Nevada began far away from the remote deserts and mountains of the West, in the excitement of an expansionist nation feeling its newfound strength and trying to manage the tension associated with its growth. This path was neatly wrapped in national sentiments about expansion...

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3. The Comstock and the Railroads

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pp. 43-62

By the standard of the day, the new state of Nevada, birthed in the tumult of the Civil War, had few of the attributes of previous entrants to the Union. Its population was small and its institutions poorly developed. Nevada was ripe for aggressive power brokers, those who thought that control of a state could lead...

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4. The Second Mining Boom: 1900 to 1929

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pp. 63-81

Despite the growing interest in forms of entertainment that neighboring states would not sanction, professional boxing, open gambling, and easy divorce requirements were not enough to sustain even a state with as few as 40,000 people. Such activities were just a sideline, a way to generate some revenue for a state...

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5. Hoover Dam and the Rise of Federal Power

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pp. 82-100

There had never been a project in Nevada like the dam along the Colorado River. This enormous, expensive, and significant public works development brought the twentieth century to Nevada. The state was born as a byproduct of the Comstock mining in the 1860s; the dam reinvented a state that had spent the better...

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6. The Mob Comes to Nevada

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pp. 101-124

Americans heaved a collective sigh of relief at the end of World War II. For the duration of the war, Americans put aside their personal desires in favor of the war effort, and with its end, the nation erupted in a frenzy of joy. It seemed impossible that after five years of war, the conflict had finally come to an end...

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7. The Corporate Era

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pp. 125-146

Early on the morning of Thanksgiving 1966, at the Carey siding in North Las Vegas, an ailing old man was transferred from a private railcar to a makeshift ambulance for a trip to the penthouse of the Desert Inn. The occupant, Howard R. Hughes, was the most mysterious figure at the pinnacle of American business...

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8. The Mirage Phase and the New Nevada

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pp. 147-163

The opening of the Mirage Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip on Thanksgiving 1989 heralded the beginning of the newest phase of gaming, the economic and cultural engine that had come to define Nevada, and its increasingly close cousin, entertainment. This $630 million property, $500 million more than had ever...

Index

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pp. 165-176