The Vapors

The Vapors


The incredible true story of America's original—and forgotten—capital of vice.

Back in the days before Las Vegas was big, when the Mob was at its peak and neon lights were but a glimmer on the horizon, a little Southern town styled itself as a premier destination for the American leisure class. Hot Springs, Arkansas, was home to healing waters, art deco splendor, and America’s original national park—as well as horse racing, nearly a dozen illegal casinos, countless back rooms and brothels, and some of the country’s most bald-faced criminals.

Gangsters, gamblers, and gamines once flocked to Hot Springs, a place where small-town hustlers and bigtime high rollers could make their fortunes and hide from the law. The Vapors is the extraordinary story of three individuals—spanning the golden decades, from the 1930s through the 1960s—and the lavish casino whose spectacular rise and fall would bring them together before blowing them apart.

In this riveting work of forgotten history, the native Arkansan David Hill plots the trajectory of everything from organized crime to America’s fraught racial past, examining how a town synonymous with white gangsters supported veterans hospitals and a burgeoning black middle class. Infused with the sights and sounds of America’s entertainment heyday—jazz orchestras and auctioneers, slot machines and comedians in suite—The Vapors is an arresting glimpse into a bygone era of American vice.

ISBN: 9781250086112
Hardcover: 400 pages.
Size: 9.3" x 6.4" x 1.4"