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The Gambler

How Penniless Dropout Kirk Kerkorian Became the Greatest Deal Maker in Capitalist History
Narrated by: Fred Sanders
Length: 13 hrs and 3 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (15 ratings)

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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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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jean
  • 04-02-18

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.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Zahid Jafry
  • 12-06-18

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.

6 people found this helpful

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  • M Pal
  • 10-05-20

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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  • Salter
  • 12-05-18

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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  • Leon Streete
  • 26-07-20

anything is truly possible

really great real life story of how to make anything you want possible. if you're a business owner don't pass on this

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  • Rudolph Werner
  • 03-11-19

Great Book

It is well worth the listen. You need to buy it. I really enjoyed the Stuff about Vegas. At one time he controlled half the properties on the strip.

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  • Dean
  • 17-10-19

Biography & Business Buff: “one of the best!”

I’ve read many, many biographies of great minds and business people. This books ranks among the top. Incredible man, great story, narration and style. Thoroughly enjoyed.

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  • Troy
  • 04-10-19

Best bio ever

I have listened to this book over 50
Times. The best book over. Wow what a good story

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  • Tim S
  • 20-08-19

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

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  • david
  • 08-06-19

One of the Greatest Dealmakers

Very detailed about Kirk's life and what shaped it. You also get a real idea of what drove him in business and why he stayed out of the spotlight. You will learn how each business was an extension of the previous one. It was fascinating to learn how he was such a brilliant deal maker and business builder. Yet, made a major blunder in his personal life in his later years.