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The Gambler: How Penniless Dropout Kirk Kerkorian Became the Greatest Deal Maker in Capitalist History
The Gambler: How Penniless Dropout Kirk Kerkorian Became the Greatest Deal Maker in Capitalist History
The Gambler: How Penniless Dropout Kirk Kerkorian Became the Greatest Deal Maker in Capitalist History
Audiobook13 hours

The Gambler: How Penniless Dropout Kirk Kerkorian Became the Greatest Deal Maker in Capitalist History

Written by William C. Rempel

Narrated by Fred Sanders

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars



About this audiobook

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 L.A., 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 eighty-five-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.

Release dateJan 23, 2018
The Gambler: How Penniless Dropout Kirk Kerkorian Became the Greatest Deal Maker in Capitalist History

William C. Rempel

William C. Rempel is a veteran investigative reporter and editor who specialized in foreign and national projects. During a thirty-six-year career at the Los Angeles Times, he produced groundbreaking reports on subjects ranging from oil tanker safety prior to the Exxon Valdez disaster to the menace of al-Qaeda prior to September 11, 2001. He has received numerous journalism honors, including a shared Overseas Press Club Award for international terrorism reports and a Gerald Loeb Award for financial writing. He was also a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.

Reviews for The Gambler

Rating: 4.52112676056338 out of 5 stars

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  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    Really good read of a very nice man billionire mogul
  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    Interesting story. Kudos to the narrator for bringing it to life.
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    Fascinating story! Many interesting and intimate details revealed. Good listen
  • Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    A fascinating biography of one of the most successful entrepreneurs and financial capitalists. I began to think the author was bordering on hagiography but it turned out Kerkorian's nature was such that he did not project a lot of negatives unlike similar moguls.Coming from humble origins he simply took on risk that most would cringe from to stair step his was to an incredible fortune. Amazingly shy and withdrawn for someone on the glare of the spotlight of success. Evidence of this was that not a single picture posted in the book, a disappointment, as pictures add so much more to a biographical work. Yet the story was intriguing nonetheless. The twists and turns of high finance, the squaring off against Howard Hughes and later Steve Wynne in Las Vegas, and the revolving door of his personal relationships and the exploitation of against him by one of those partners.In most respects Kerkorian never flaunted his wealth, and certainly not his celebrity as a billionaire in high profile Vegas. Unlike most others he always chose to remain in the shadows of anonymity.He did channel some of the wealth into Armenia his ancestral homeland of tragic history. Yet he was quick to pull the plug on that near his end leaving many in the lurch. The wealth in itself became a monument unto itself. It left me wondering how much is enough, or is it even a consideration for these types. For some, like Kerkorian, it seems to become simply a game. A scorecard of numbers and accomplishments.