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In Nevada [Hardcover]

David Thomson
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

6 Jan 2000
A history, panorama and reverie on the great, "empty" but lively state of Nevada. It is a book based on travels; but is about people and society, absurd hope and unshakeable dread. For Nevada represents the best and the worst, the frontier paradise and the future abyss. It is a book about landscape, and enormous, desolate views; the silence of the places where nothing happens, and the sudden, total roar of a military plane flying at 50 feet and 2000 mph. It describes the various shades of ochre and mauve; the astonishing extremes of weather; the religion of water; and the blur of red and black on the roulette wheel. Nevada is a meeting place for the oldest mummified remains ever found in North America - and Jerry Lewis; it extends from cowboys on the last great ranches to lone prospectors, from the desperately hopeful in Las Vegas, to the resolute military men, from the exponents of fringe movements of the Mormon church, to the people who live on Route 50, the loneliest road in the world.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 345 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown & Company (6 Jan 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316648515
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316648516
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.2 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,668,947 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

English-American writer David Thomson was educated at Dulwich College and the London School of Film Technique. After seven years at Penguin Books, he became a Director of Film Studies at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire between 1977 and 1981. Perhaps best known for his magisterial Biographical Dictionary of Film, Thomson is a prolific writer on film including biographies of David O Selznick and Orson Welles, and two books on Hollywood: Beneath Mulholland: Thoughts on Hollywood and Its Ghosts and The Whole Equation: A History of Hollywood. Thomson lives in San Fransisco with his wife and two sons.

Product Description

Amazon Review

It's no great surprise that film guru David Thomson should write a sweeping, cinematic tome about America, packed with more human insight, wit and compassion than a decade of Hollywood's output can muster. What may cause a few raised eyebrows is his choice of state.

But Thomson's beloved Nevada turns out to be an inspired choice. America's fastest growing state, it comes across as the raw, unhinged schizoid sibling to the rest of the union. It's home to strange phenomena--the Area 51 military base where UFO spotters gather to monitor the strange lights in the sky, Lake Tahoe where corpses sink rather than float, the pagan Burning Man Festival and Las Vegas, that most hygienically degenerate of cities.

Today the harsh environment may have been tamed but one thing unites the present and the past. Whether it's the first explorers' decision to cross an unmapped mountain range, a family man's decision to sell up and join the gold rush, physicists' quest for more and more destructive nuclear weapons or the hunch of the gambler about number seven on the roulette wheel, the need to plunge headfirst into the unknown is fundamental to the Nevada experience.

Thomson coaxes not only a wonderful story from his subject but crosscuts the narrative with verve, sprinkling the text with telling motifs and zooming in to record memorable cameos from a cast of walk on Nevadans. And like Coppola or Scorsese he does something more: he evokes a unique slice of America, a vibe--"Nevadana", if you like. --Tom de Castella


' Where others merely described, Thomson has illuminated Orson Welles. A triumph.' -- ARTHUR PENN, Director, Bonnie & Clyde

'For me, he is the greatest of today's film writers' -- J.G. Ballard, OBSERVER

* 'David Thomson deserves a lifetime achievement award for excellence in his chosen field' -- DAILY TELEGRAPH

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
'In Nevada' sprung from a road-trip David Thomson took from San Francisco to Telluride, Colorado and his fascination with this vast relatively unknown part of the US.
Beginning in the North around Reno, where Nevada first developed after the Comstock Lode was struck, he traces the history of this often over-looked state, from the stumbling early exploration, through mineral boom-and-bust, divorce and finally Las Vegas,with a particularly interesting section alternating between the Golden Days of the Mob and the Rat-Pack in Vegas, and a visit to the somewhat-closer-than-imagined Nevada Test Site, site of Cold War weapons tests.
A well-written exploration, worthy of a read for anyone who likes to go off the beaten track, with thankfully little about "Area 51" and "ET"!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and quite entertaining 31 Oct 2013
This is a strange book. The first section is really a collection of essays on Nevada with no discernible narrative. Some of the prose is a little confusing too. There were a fair number of sentences that I found myself having to read over again (and then again, sometimes) before I could understand them. That's quite disruptive to the reading experience.

Anyway, the second part was much better and rescued the book. It is a potted history of the Las Vegas area including lots of details about atomic testing and gangsters (guaranteed to enliven any book). It is far more cohesive the first part and thoroughly enjoyable.

Three stars for the first half and five stars for the second.
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