Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling

Front Cover
Penguin Group USA, 2007 - Games - 570 pages
6 Reviews
Now in paperback: the first narrative history of gambling, spanning the Stone Age to the Internet era

In Roll the Bones, historian David G. Schwartz tells the epic story of gambling, beginning with its emergence from divination rituals and ending with today’s global gaming culture, arguing convincingly that gambling has always been a crucial part of the human experience.

Roll the Bonesbegins with the rolling of knucklebones in prehistoric times and the casting of lots in the Bible 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 in Venice, and the British Empire’s work in spreading gambling worldwide. He 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 world’s number-one tourist destination. Packed with colorful characters from Julius Caesar to Steve Wynn, Roll the Bonesis an all-in sure bet to captivate readers everywhere.

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Review: Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling

User Review  - Jason Gillikin - Goodreads

Excellent historical survey of gaming. Read full review

Review: Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling

User Review  - Tucker - Goodreads

I'm still sort of unclear as to how it was *supposed* to be arranged, which made it troubling to read and then find out that we're now in a different time and place. Overall though, I really enjoyed learning about our ubiquitous past-times. Read full review

About the author (2007)

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 the director of the Center for Gaming Research at UNLV, and is the author of the academic books Cutting the Wire and Suburban Xanadu. He is also a consultant and frequent commentator on gambling and related issues.

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