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Publisher's Summary

The rags-to-riches story of one of America's wealthiest and least-known financial giants, self-made billionaire Kirk Kerkorian - the daring aviator, movie mogul, risk taker, and business tycoon who transformed Las Vegas and Hollywood to become one of the leading financiers in American business.

Kerkorian combined the courage of a World War II pilot, the fortitude of a scrappy boxer, the cunning of an inscrutable poker player, and an unmatched genius for making deals. He never put his name on a building, but when he died, he owned almost every major hotel and casino in Las Vegas. He envisioned and fostered a new industry - the leisure business. Three times he built the biggest resort hotel in the world. Three times he bought and sold the fabled MGM Studios, forever changing the way Hollywood does business.

His early life began as far as possible from a place on the Forbes List of Billionaires when he and his Armenian immigrant family lost their farm to foreclosure. He was four. They arrived in Los Angeles penniless and moved often, staying one step ahead of more evictions. Young Kirk learned English on the streets of LA, made pennies hawking newspapers, and dropped out after eighth grade. How he went on to become one of the richest and most generous men in America - his net worth as much as $20 billion - is a story largely unknown to the world. That's because what Kerkorian valued most was his privacy. His very private life turned to tabloid fodder late in life when a former professional tennis player falsely claimed that the 85-year-old billionaire fathered her child.

In this engrossing biography, investigative reporter William C. Rempel digs deep into Kerkorian's long-guarded history to introduce a man of contradictions - a poorly educated genius for deal-making, an extraordinarily shy man who made the boldest of business ventures, a careful and calculating investor who was willing to bet everything on a single roll of the dice.

Unlike others of his status and importance, Kerkorian made few public appearances and strenuously avoided personal publicity. His friends and associates, however, were some of the biggest names in business, entertainment, and sports - among them Howard Hughes, Ted Turner, Steve Wynn, Michael Milken, Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Elvis Presley, Mike Tyson, and Andre Agassi.

When he died in 2015, two years shy of the century mark, Kerkorian had outlived many of his closest friends and associates. Now, Rempel meticulously pieces together revealing fragments of Kerkorian's life, collected from diverse sources - war records, business archives, court documents, news clippings, and the recollections and recorded memories of longtime pals and relatives. In The Gambler, Rempel illuminates this unknown, self-made man and his inspiring legacy as never before.

©2017 William C. Rempel (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • Jean
  • Santa Cruz, CA, United States
  • 02-04-18

An Engrossing Biography

William C. Rempel was an investigative reporter for the Los Angeles Times. He has written the biography of Kirk Kerkorian (1917-2015). The author covers Kerkorian’s life from boyhood to death. The book is full of all types of celebrities from business to sports. Rempel states that Kerkorian was a big-time gambler in casinos, business and life.

The book is well written and researched. The writing is in the style of a journalist. While researching this book, Rempel interviewed many people and worked these interviews into the book. I enjoyed reading this book. The style of writing and the narration made it an easy listen.

The book is thirteen hours. Fred Sanders does a good job narrating the book. Sanders is an actor and audiobook narrator. This is the first time I have read a book by Rempel or listened to Sanders.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Fantastic!

Must read/ listen! amazing story I didn't want it to end! Kirk was defiantly an amazing man

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Drew Me In

This bio ranks right up there with other classics I've listened to about Rockefeller, Vanderbilt etc. except I'd heard of them before, and I'd never heard of Kirk Kerkorian before. This book filled what I now realize was a big gap in my knowledge of bootstrapping American success stories. I enjoy rags-to-riches tales, and am also interested in the history of Las Vegas; this book ticked both boxes for me. It was very well written. I found the one-sided feud with Howard Hughes particularly weird.

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Great Story!<br />

This was a very interesting. book. Narrator did a nice job. I would definitely recommend, well worth your time.

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An honest business man

Well done bio. There should be more men like Kirk. Also, some good history on Las Vegas. Narrator was excellent.

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Not enough detail on his business life

I was disappointed by this book. There were too many anecdotes of what a great guy he was (deservedly, I'm sure) and not enough insights on to how he built his fortune. It was unnecessarily unkind to a woman in his life. It might be true, but did I really need to know all about it? What challenges did he face professionally? How did he go about raising the money for his acquisitions (with no personal credit history of his own, no less)? Mr. Kerkorian would have shone through as an incredible individual without the author having to be so sycophantic. It seemed he really cared about preserving the relationships with those in Mr. Kerkorian's vast network and less about sharing his actual story.

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Great book

Enjoyed the book very much. The narrator did a good job but really enunciated *Billion Dollars* with enthusiasm which became a running joke toward the end. Nevertheless, a fascinating life and left me wanting to know more about his business style and how management style. Would recommend to anyone who likes business biography.

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Puro ‘ARMO’

A total American true story that should be read by all aspiring entrepreneurs. I was attracted to the title the gambler and the man Kirk. A person I didn’t really, but by name only and articles I had read about him in the newspapers. A truly incredible saga. Al rato, Vidal Herrera

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Wow!

What a great story and an awesome life well lived! Well written and engaging. The book is for every vegas lover. Kirk is a model of humanity and human grit.

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  • james
  • Gulf Stream, FL, United States
  • 02-05-18

a very interesting story

I really was impressed with this man's integrity and was amused by his personal life. it was a lot of fun to read. I recommend it.