• The Gambler

  • How Penniless Dropout Kirk Kerkorian Became the Greatest Deal Maker in Capitalist History
  • By: William C. Rempel
  • Narrated by: Fred Sanders
  • Length: 13 hrs and 3 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (755 ratings)

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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

What listeners say about The Gambler

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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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.

8 people found this helpful

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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.

8 people found this 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 people found this helpful

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Great Audio Book.

I listen to many audio books and this is top shelf! Excellent narration of the life of an amazing business man. I loved the stories of his flying and if creating mega Las Vegas hotels. Highly recommended.

1 person found this helpful

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Great Story

Great story & inspirational about an American business titan. I learned a bunch about him & the times he grew up in. The first half of his life is pretty amazing. The second half was sort of blah, typical billionaire, but it was all entertaining

1 person found this helpful

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Great guy.

Excellent story and performance about a great guy. I wish I had known Kirk Kerkorian.

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The Dealmaker

My dad had a partner who claimed to be related to Mr Kerkorian. I don't know if that was true or not but that's what drew me to the book in the first place. I'm glad I read it, what a story. The guy was a legend.

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The only downside to a great book is it ends

I loved this book. I lived in Las Vegas a long time so I know of Kirk Kerkorian, his history and impact on the city well. There were several things in this book I did not know about him and we’re interesting to learn. Overall, I really enjoyed this book.

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Worthwhile

I think this is a good story about a man who had good brains and good luck coupled with exceptional integrity. I'm going to use this as a worthwhile gift.

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What a great story!!

A great story of a brilliant man. Also a great history of the development of Las Vegas, how to reposition and find value in a struggling company and how to carry oneself as a person. The narrator has a great pace and soothing baritone voice. I highly recommend this story. I am currently listing for my 4th time through.