Satan's Playground: Mobsters and Movie Stars at America's Greatest Gaming Resort (American Encounters/Global Interactions)

Satan's Playground: Mobsters and Movie Stars at America's Greatest Gaming Resort (American Encounters/Global Interactions)

By: Paul J. Vanderwood (author)Paperback

Up to 2 WeeksUsually despatched within 2 weeks


Satan's Playground chronicles the rise and fall of the tumultuous and lucrative gambling industry that developed just south of the U.S.-Mexico border in the early twentieth century. As prohibitions against liquor, horse racing, gambling, and prostitution swept the United States, the vice industry flourished in and around Tijuana, to the extent that reformers came to call the town "Satan's Playground," unintentionally increasing its licentious allure. The area was dominated by Agua Caliente, a large, elegant gaming resort opened by four entrepreneurial Border Barons (three Americans and one Mexican) in 1928. Diplomats, royalty, film stars, sports celebrities, politicians, patricians, and nouveau-riche capitalists flocked to Agua Caliente's luxurious complex of casinos, hotels, cabarets, and sports extravaganzas, and to its world-renowned thoroughbred racetrack. Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, Louis B. Mayer, the Marx Brothers, Bing Crosby, Charlie Chaplin, Gloria Swanson, and the boxer Jack Dempsey were among the regular visitors. So were mobsters such as Bugsy Siegel, who later cited Agua Caliente as his inspiration for building the first such resort on what became the Las Vegas Strip. Less than a year after Agua Caliente opened, gangsters held up its money-car in transit to a bank in San Diego, killing the courier and a guard and stealing the company money pouch. Paul J. Vanderwood weaves the story of this heist gone wrong, the search for the killers, and their sensational trial into the overall history of the often-chaotic development of Agua Caliente, Tijuana, and Southern California. Drawing on newspaper accounts, police files, court records, personal memoirs, oral histories, and "true detective" magazines, he presents a fascinating portrait of vice and society in the Jazz Age, and he makes a significant contribution to the history of the U.S.-Mexico border.

About Author

Paul J. Vanderwood (1929-2011) was Professor Emeritus of Mexican History at San Diego State University. He was the author of several books including Juan Soldado: Rapist, Murderer, Martyr, Saint, also published by Duke University Press; The Power of God against the Guns of Government: Religious Upheaval in Mexico at the Turn of the Nineteenth Century; Disorder and Progress: Bandits, Police, and Mexican Development; and Border Fury: A Picture Postcard Record of Mexico's Revolution and U.S. War Preparedness, 1910-1917.


Acknowledgments ix 1. The Mob Strikes the Border Barons 1 2. Mobs 12 3. Playground of the Hemisphere 37 4. Fortuitous Breaks 51 5. Border Babylon 71 6. King of Border Vice 80 7. "They're Off!" 90 8. Prohibition's Bounty 103 9. The New Wave 119 10. Agua Caliente in Gestation 134 11. Building Camelot 140 12. Capt. Jerry's Day 172 13. "Silent" Marty's Oration 179 14. Veracity 190 15. Fixes 199 16. Sentencing and Censoring 212 17. Hollywood's Playground 222 18. "Place Your Bets!" 238 19. Get the Barons 272 20. Fools and Thieves 291 21. A Dead Cock in the Pit 304 22. What Ever Happened To? 320 23. Ghosts 336 Notes 341 Bibliography 373 Index 385

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9780822347026
  • Format: Paperback
  • Number Of Pages: 408
  • ID: 9780822347026
  • weight: 594
  • ISBN10: 0822347024

Delivery Information

  • Saver Delivery: Yes
  • 1st Class Delivery: Yes
  • Courier Delivery: Yes
  • Store Delivery: Yes

Prices are for internet purchases only. Prices and availability in WHSmith Stores may vary significantly