An associate professor of history at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Michael S. Green specializes in nineteenth-century politics and the American West. His works on the Civil War era include Freedom, Union, and Power: Lincoln and His Party during the Civil War (2004); Politics and America in Crisis: The Coming of the Civil War (2010); and Lincoln and the Election of 1860 (2011). His books on Nevada include Las Vegas: A Centennial History (2005), with Eugene Moehring, and Nevada: A History of the Silver State (2015). A recipient of the American Historical Association's Eugene Asher Distinguished Teaching Award, he is also on the board of directors of Las Vegas's nationally known and highly respected Mob Museum. He serves as the executive director of the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association and the director of Preserve Nevada, the state's only statewide historic preservation organization.
In 1931, Nevada became the only state with legal gambling, attracting mostly small-time illegal gambling operators. Soon after World War II, Las Vegas became the center of gambling in the U.S., and the smallest city by far to be visited by Senator Estes Kefauver's committee investigating organized crime--because Las Vegas already was known as mob central. Eventually, a combination of events drove the mob out of power in Las Vegas, and the area morphed into a tourism destination built by corporations. This lecture traces the evolution of Las Vegas as a gambling and tourism city from its maverick beginnings to its mob connections to the MBA's who run it now, along with the story of a sometimes controversial museum that captures that history.