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Beneath the Neon: Life and Death in the Tunnels of Las Vegas

Beneath the Neon: Life and Death in the Tunnels of Las Vegas

4.7 26
by Matthew O'Brien, Danny Mollohan

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ISBN-10: 0929712390

ISBN-13: 9780929712390

Pub. Date: 06/28/2007

Publisher: Huntington Press

The catacombs of ancient Rome served as houses of worship for Christians. When surveyed in the early 1800s, the sewers of Paris yielded gold, jewels, and relics of the revolution. And thousands of people lived in the subway and train tunnels of New York City in the 1980s and '90s.

What secrets do the Las Vegas storm drains keep? What discoveries wait in the dark

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Beneath the Neon: Life and Death in the Tunnels of Las Vegas 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
sframpton89 More than 1 year ago
This book was absolutely amazing. It was impossible to put it down. The book draws you in even more with every character thats introduced. I would recommend it to everyone. Very good book.
DKI More than 1 year ago
Las Vegas has always been portrayed as glamorous. However, Matthew O'Brien discovered that there are people living below that glamorous life in Las Vegas. Matthew O'Brien did amazing work for this book. Matthew focused on the people who fell on hard times and who struggle to survive while living underground! A must read that will open your heart to the less fortunate. Each persons' story is one not soon forgotten. Matthew O'Brien's fairness and nonjudgmental personality adds to the spirit of Beneath the Neon.
J3ssT More than 1 year ago
Entertaining, informative and factual book by Matthew O'Brien, who wrote with realism (which some people might interpret as noir), humour and a drop of innocence. O'Brien did shock a bit - but he tells us he was writing what he saw. He managed to remain a reporter 'on point', conveying facts without judging the tunnel inhabitants, faithfully letting them tell us just what secrets they wanted us to know. As I read I saw the tunnels with O'Brien's eyes and they seemed to swallow, comfort and fool those that willed it, some into thinking they could get away with murder. I'd recommend this book, especially to anyone who casually mentions they want to make a trip out to Las Vegas. The book wouldn't dampen spirits, especially since it seems O'Brien is one of those rare men who lends a hand if he can. The book would get a casual visitor to think about what or who they might be walking over....
maura More than 1 year ago
I was looking forward to reading this book because I have visited Las Vegas and had no idea what lay beneath this amazing city. Also because I am moving to Las Vegas in the near future. I have worked in the field of Social Services and have been aware of and concerned about the plight of homeless people for many years. I have seen the homeless in many cities such as New York, Chicago, Las Angeles, and Washington, as well as Tampa where I am from. Much of it is out in the open and there have been many approaches to try to deal with this growing problem. It appears that Las Vegas offers a unique and hidden, albeit very dangerous and illegal, solution to the problem of homelessness. The author does extensive research on how the tunnels under the city came to be and much of this research entailed his own experience exploring the tunnels and interviewing the homeless people that he found there. Each of these people that he interviewed had their own unique story and some very interesting attitudes and outlooks. It is worth noting that they are examples of how little people really need to survive and make a home for themselves, if they are so inclined. This is just a fascinating glimpse into a world most of us will never see and couldn't even imagine, and there it is right below one of the most exotic, popular, and exciting cities in the world.
starswindow More than 1 year ago
Las Vegas, the city of lights, glamour and excess, carries with it, skeletons in its closet, the existence of an acknowledged world of homelessness; the dark drainage tunnels is the abode of solace for these forgotten souls. The author's approach was refreshing. His fascination stemmed from his interest to trace that the steps of a wanted criminal who hid in the drain tunnels to escape from authorities. The author, a reporter when he started this investigative work, was successful in his attempt to objectively tell the tale of each character that he had encounter each time he went to the drain. As the book progresses, one can sense the author's naïveté as he describes his personal feelings, perceptions, and expectations of what/whom he might come across, a ghost, some drug addict or mentally ill person who will mug him ... he was scared. In fact he thoughtfully acknowledged that he led a sheltered life. I think this honesty was one of the strengths of this book. As his words take you deeper into the darkness, you can sense his fear, smell the stagnant water and slowly recognize that these, people although homeless, are not zombies, but are misunderstood humans. Each person had a story, some speak of their art and talent, family, struggles, success, failures and just like us, and they too have dreams. It cannot be denied that their state is a reflection of the ills of today's society. The pictures in the book also provided an excellent insight to the eerie cryptic art, new age graffiti that so beautifully adorn the tunnel walls as well as lend to the reality and the humanness of the characters interviewed. The skeletons that Las Vegas wants to hide, the only difference is that these people either chose to leave the conventionalities of today's world and live freely according to their own terms and without judgment; or hide under the shelter of darkness, hoping to find solace from consequences of choices that they have made (crime, addictions, society etc). One has to be reflective and sensitive to human psychology in order to considerately experience and write about this without bias. The author presented its readers with a new perspective of why this underground world somehow needs to exist to create that yin and yang/balance in society. The best part of the book I think is how the reader can sense the author's growth as a person and as a writer. He started out fearing the dark tunnels and a little wary of how these underground dwellers would receive him, being an intruder. After publishing this book, his experience and the people he met had offered him a deeper understanding of how and why they chose to live underground. His life changing experience is manifested on his visits in the tunnel to check up on these dwellers as well as his non profit organization that benefits the homeless. As the book progresses the readers can easily notice how he had developed from a reporter into an effective storyteller.
Gonzaba More than 1 year ago
No Vegas Guidebook shows this part of town. This book makes visible some of the various aspects of our lives, relationships, and social policies that to often go unnoticed. This is a great investigation of the real world accounts of the structural inequalities inherent within every society, and exposes the outcomes of what happens when we alienate aspects of society that we deem to be unfavorable. It also brings into consciousness the systemic impacts that hail from the lives of those in impoverished situations. I would personally put it up their with the works of Paulo Freire, Bell Hooks, Angela Davis, William V. Spanos, and Mumia Abu Jamal.
Aussie_readex More than 1 year ago
What a summer! I received the book yesterday and started reading it at about 6:00pm. It is now 1:30am and I just finished reading it. I only stopped a couple of times but I really could not put it down. Bravo! I don't believe Matthew O'Brien when he says that he more an author and journalist than an explorer. It is true that he was motivated because of a felon escape story, but a regular journo would have stopped after reenacting the escape and a regular author would have relied more on fiction. O'Brien created a chronicle about what lies beneath, not only Las Vegas but beneath many other metropolitan areas around the world. Throughout the whole book he kept mentioning the baton. I really hope it always stayed in its sheat. I also liked his wrinting style, the waythe flashbacks keep connection with the narration of the present time and especially enjoyed the historical facts about the use of tunnels, caves and their explorers throughout the history of mankind. O'Brien was able to uncover the real people that lives in the drains, and showed us that even if forgotten, ignored or simply at large, they are not the monsters that people think hide in the dark and humid corners of the undercity. And the author goes beyond simply writing a book by helping those in need through his foundation. Thanks for writing that book, for telling the story of those people living underground and for helping them out.
C_Stangl More than 1 year ago
Now after reading this book it opened my eyes when driving down Tropicana and see the storm drains I now think who may be living down there. Matt who spent so much time to discover the paths of murderers, people who chased the dream but ended up chasing the dragon to satisfy their drug needs, people who are just looking somewhere to get away from the hustle and heat in Vegas. Some of these interviews will make you be happy and appreciate what you have. I highly recommend this book to anyone!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We go to Las Vegas a lot and didn't not know any of the things he discovered. Now when we go we will be thinking of the tunnels. It is kind of scary and he did a good job that I wouldn't think of. Good book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this book for my husband, which he sat down and read in one day which told me he liked the book and it did hold his interest because he does not sit and read.
Wandering More than 1 year ago
While reading Beneath the Neon I found myself walking the drains with Matthew, seeing and feeling and smelling all he was encountering. He brought his book to life in a way many have not. The empathy and dedication he gave to these people was what stood out to me in his writings. This is a must read for everyone. The homeless are there, everywhere...in places we never would ordinarily dream of. Matthew has helped bring that knowledge to many in a very excellent book, and hopefully through books like his, they will be better understood.
milbucksfans More than 1 year ago
Matt O'Brien's gripping narrative of the shadowy lives being led under the Las Vegas Strip is as interesting and compelling as it is sobering. This is subject matter that sorely needed to be brought to light and the author does a terrific job of describing a scene that few of us could otherwise imagine. Suspenseful, well-written, and moving, this first-person account gives the reader an entirely new perspective on the culture of Las Vegas.
dp1 More than 1 year ago
This is a great book, providing the reader with a different view of the glittery city of Las Vegas, one that most don't know exists. The book is hard to put down. The stories are very detailed and allow the reader to almost feel as if they are there with the author. Highly recommended!
joyelleng More than 1 year ago
This was an eye opening book. I grew up in Las Vegas, and never had any idea about people living like that. Even while writing about the wretched and dangerous conditions he saw, Matthew O'brien still managed to add some humor to the book. It's good for people to see that there is way more going on in Vegas besides what is seen in the tourist areas.
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Mr.T More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put the book down once I started it. Matt great story the book was amazing coming from someone that has walk and documented things from the tunnels. The book gives great view to what people do think twice about.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book tells in a real emotional way of how the unfortunate live under las vegas!! You feel bad even for the self-made losers. The writers of this book went out of their comfortable existence to tell the tales of these unfortunate souls. God bless them!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Reading this makes me want to throw on some old boots and find a storm drain to explore.(And I'm a girl) It's amazing to me that so many people took to Matthew the way they did. You would think people living undergound homeless in storm drains would be mean, crazy, dangerous or maybe all three. Almost everyone seemed to be friendly and happy to see him and everyone was ready to tell their story. Well except the teenagers and the crazy lady. I absolutely enjoyed reading this book and I recommend it to everybody!!! I 'll probably read it again
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just finished reading Matthew O'Brien's book Beneath The Neon, which is a story as the subtitle clearly suggests about 'Life and Death in the Tunnels of Las Vegas.' It got me thinking about stories, particularly about their beginning and endings for more reason than that of their natural structure. But because I feel that beginnings and endings can be devastatingly sincere. His stories began with intrigue, mystery, possibility as most good stories should. His endings were honest, painful and in most cases profound. His endings were the kind of endings that make you pause before you turn the page, that make you take a deep sigh of introspection as you search your own thoughts for personal understanding, because what you just read you know, you understand and have found that intellectual conection that only good authors and sincere human beings can provide.
Guest More than 1 year ago
O'brien takes readers into a world where he encounters a surprising amount of homeless people living in the drains and listens as they share their stories with him. O'brien even transcribed a conversation he had with a mother who was visiting her homeless son, Tyrone, in a storm drain. Tyrone had been missing for twenty-eight years before she was able to find him. The majority of people O'brien spoke with in the Vegas underworld expressed they were living there because of drug, alcohol, and gambling problems. Gambling addictions seemed to be particularly prevalent in their lives. O'brien recorded these conversations without judgment. Their stories all had in common a rich sense of genuine humanity. Their stories bear witness to the ugly side of Las Vegas culture, a side which is often ignored or overlooked. They testify to that part of Las Vegas that sucks people into its death trap with no remorse. â¿¿Beneath the Neon: Life and Death in the Tunnels of Las Vegasâ¿ is a must-read for curious tourists, homeless advocates, and human beings alike.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put the book down once I started it. Matt O'Brien does an amazing job discovering what most of us don't know exists in a city that's so bright. Very interesting.