The Vapors: A Southern Family, the New York Mob, and the Rise and Fall of Hot Springs, Americas Forgotten Capital of Vice Audiobook, by David Hill Play Audiobook Sample

The Vapors: A Southern Family, the New York Mob, and the Rise and Fall of Hot Springs, America's Forgotten Capital of Vice Audiobook

The Vapors: A Southern Family, the New York Mob, and the Rise and Fall of Hot Springs, Americas Forgotten Capital of Vice Audiobook, by David Hill Play Audiobook Sample
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Read By: George Newbern Publisher: Brilliance Audio Listen Time: at 1.0x Speed 6.33 hours at 1.5x Speed 4.75 hours at 2.0x Speed Release Date: July 2020 Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download ISBN: 9781713500599

Quick Stats About this Audiobook

Total Audiobook Chapters:

47

Longest Chapter Length:

35:38 minutes

Shortest Chapter Length:

02:22 minutes

Average Chapter Length:

12:08 minutes

Audiobooks by this Author:

1

Publisher Description

One of "21 books we can't wait to read in 2020" —Thrillist

A New York Times Book Review summer reading pick A Kirkus Reviews hottest summer read | A Publishers Weekly summer reads staff pick

The incredible true story of America's original—and forgotten—capital of vice

Back in the days before Vegas was big, when the Mob was at its peak and neon lights were but a glimmer on the horizon, a little Southern town styled itself as a premier destination for the American leisure class. Hot Springs, Arkansas was home to healing waters, Art Deco splendor, and America’s original national park—as well as horse racing, nearly a dozen illegal casinos, countless backrooms and brothels, and some of the country’s most bald-faced criminals.

Gangsters, gamblers, and gamines: all once flocked to America’s forgotten capital of vice, a place where small-town hustlers and bigtime high-rollers could make their fortunes, and hide from the law. The Vapors is the extraordinary story of three individuals—spanning the golden decades of Hot Springs, from the 1930s through the 1960s—and the lavish casino whose spectacular rise and fall would bring them together before blowing them apart.

Hazel Hill was still a young girl when legendary mobster Owney Madden rolled into town in his convertible, fresh off a crime spree in New York. He quickly established himself as the gentleman Godfather of Hot Springs, cutting barroom deals and buying stakes in the clubs at which Hazel made her living—and drank away her sorrows. Owney’s protégé was Dane Harris, the son of a Cherokee bootlegger who rose through the town’s ranks to become Boss Gambler. It was his idea to build The Vapors, a pleasure palace more spectacular than any the town had ever seen, and an establishment to rival anything on the Vegas Strip or Broadway in sophistication and supercharged glamour.

In this riveting work of forgotten history, native Arkansan David Hill plots the trajectory of everything from organized crime to America’s fraught racial past, examining how a town synonymous with white gangsters supported a burgeoning black middle class. He reveals how the louche underbelly of the South was also home to veterans hospitals and baseball’s spring training grounds, giving rise to everyone from Babe Ruth to President Bill Clinton. Infused with the sights and sounds of America’s entertainment heyday—jazz orchestras and auctioneers, slot machines and suited comedians—The Vapors is an arresting glimpse into a bygone era of American vice.

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[David Hill’s] fantastic debut blends true crime and Southern history to chronicle the transformation of Hot Springs, Arkansas, from a spa town into a hotbed of horse racing, prostitution, and illegal gambling . . . Hill tracks this history through the lives of three central figures: Owney Madden, Dane Harris, and Hazel Hill (the author’s grandmother) . . . Expertly interweaving family memoir, Arkansas politics, and Mafia lore, Hill packs the story full of colorful characters and hair-raising events. This novelistic history hits the jackpot.” ?Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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Quotes

  • "[The Vapors] is an intensely researched, gripping account of Hot Springs’ seedy, rollicking past and its near-miss to beat out Las Vegas in becoming America’s first bonafide gambling destination.”

    — Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
  • “His book recreates the giddy era with a delightfully light touch ad a focus on the nightclub of the title.”

    — New York Times Book Review
  • “Bribes, kickbacks, campaign contributions, ballot stuffing, and intimidation steered the profit to those in power, but the casinos also enjoyed genuine popular support, something that leads Hill to a consideration of what makes an enterprise legitimate.” 

    — New Yorker
  • “Blends true crime and Southern history..Expertly interweaving family memoir, Arkansas politics, and Mafia lore, Hill packs the story full of colorful characters and hair-raising events. This novelistic history hits the jackpot.”

    — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
  • "With comfortable Southern charm, narrator George Newbern, a Little Rock native, delivers this decades-spanning account of Hot Springs, Arkansas, when it was the uncontested gambling and sin capital of North America.… Newbern reflects the author's easy humor when mentioning the likes of Babe Ruth, mobster Frank Costello, the Andrews Sisters, and even a young Bill Clinton as occasional visitors and performers. A wonderful slice of Americana.

    — AudioFile Magazine
  • [David Hill’s] fantastic debut blends true crime and Southern history to chronicle the transformation of Hot Springs, Arkansas, from a spa town into a hotbed of horse racing, prostitution, and illegal gambling . . . Hill tracks this history through the lives of three central figures: Owney Madden, Dane Harris, and Hazel Hill (the author’s grandmother) . . . Expertly interweaving family memoir, Arkansas politics, and Mafia lore, Hill packs the story full of colorful characters and hair-raising events. This novelistic history hits the jackpot.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • A juicy tale . . . [David Hill] offers up a huge cast of colorful, mostly sleazy characters, but he focuses on three key players . . . Weaving their stories in and out . . . Hill unfolds an engrossing history of corruption at the highest levels . . . Captivating.” ―Kirkus Reviews

Awards

  • A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of Summer
  • An Audible Pick of Listeners Favorite Audiobooks of the Month
  • A Washington Post Pick of Best Books of the Month
  • A Christian Science Monitor selection of the Month
  • A Kirkus Reviews Pick for Summer
  • A Publishers Weekly Editors' Choice

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About George Newbern

George Newbern is an Earphones Award–winning narrator and a television and film actor best known for his roles as Brian MacKenzie in Father of the Bride and Father of the Bride Part II, as well as Danny in Friends. As a voice actor, he is notable for his role as Superman on the Cartoon Newtork series Static Shock, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited. He has guest starred on many television series, including Scandal, The Mentalist, Private Practice, CSI: Miami, and Numb3rs. He holds a BA in theater arts from Northwestern University.