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Roll the Bones

The History of Gambling

by David G. Schwartz


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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 Bones begins 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 Bones is an all-in sure bet to captivate readers everywhere.

Publication Details

Penguin USA, Inc.
Gotham TPB
Publication Date:


Roll the Bones
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