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Literary Las Vegas: Geoff Schumacher

The first edition of Geoff Schumacher’s "Sun, Sin & Suburbia: The History of Modern Las Vegas" was written in 2004, in the heart of the city’s boom years.

"Eight years and one devastating recession later, the community had undergone such profound changes," that Schumacher, a 23-year Las Vegas journalist who now serves as the publisher of the Ames Tribune and its sister publications in central Iowa, decided it was time to revisit the city’s history for an updated look at the forces that built it up and brought it down.

Schumacher is headed back to Southern Nevada to promote a revised and expanded edition of his contemporary history book. From 11 a.m. to noon Saturday, he is scheduled to join a group of editors in a panel discussion designed to help freelance writers avoid big mistakes during the Making Cent$ of a Writing Career conference scheduled from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Gold Coast, 4000 W. Flamingo Road. Visit nevadawriters.org for details.

A "Sun, Sin & Suburbia" book launch featuring a discussion of Las Vegas’ past, present and future is scheduled from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Nevada State Museum at the Springs Preserve, 309 S. Valley View Blvd. Admission to the program is free. Those who would like to attend are encouraged to RSVP by calling 822-8735. Schumacher also plans a book signing from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday at the 2191 N. Rainbow Blvd. Barnes & Noble. For more information on the author or book, visit sunsinsuburbia.com.

Excerpt from "Sun, Sin & Suburbia: The History of Modern Las Vegas"

Almost nobody saw it coming. It was as if a tornado had somehow eluded meteorological detection and swept into town without notice. In that sense, it was more like an earthquake, striking without any warning. Las Vegas was completely caught off guard by the real estate bust and the national economic meltdown that followed. This could be said of the whole country, of course, but Las Vegas was hit harder than most other places, fell farther and was among the least prepared to deal with the effects.

Las Vegas was booming like never before, which is saying something for a community that had enjoyed long periods of growth and prosperity throughout its history. The future looked as bright as the past. "We went on as though this boom would continue forever," said Michael Green, a history professor at the College of Southern Nevada. "Alan Greenspan used the term ‘irrational exuberance,’ and in some ways that describes the situation in Las Vegas. This community had suffered through downturns before, but not in the lifetimes or careers of many of those making government or economic policy in the early and mid-2000s. So there seemed to be no little voice in their heads warning them."

With no little voices rising above the din, casino companies, developers and civic leaders forged ahead with ambitious plans to transform Las Vegas into a world-class city. Las Vegas entrepreneurs have always been willing to take risks, but the amounts of money there were leveraging on the future were beyond the scale of anything that had been imagined before.

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