Former Gov. Bob Miller talks about Nevada past in ‘Son of a Gambling Man’ |

Former Gov. Bob Miller talks about Nevada past in ‘Son of a Gambling Man’

Wheeler Cowperthwaite
Jim Grant / Nevada Appeal

Former Gov. Bob Miller’s autobiography is called “Son of a Gambling Man: My Journey From a Casino Family to the Governor’s Mansion” and is out in hardback.

Former Gov. Bob Miller’s autobiography about his father, the governorship and Las Vegas required six years and much reworking, he said while signing his new book at Comma Coffee on Monday afternoon.

It started at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, with an audio account. That evolved into discussion about writing a book, Miller said.

The first iteration was not to his liking.

“Then, as I say in the author’s note, it wasn’t really exactly what I wanted. I struggled for a while with how to get it refashioned and finally did with the help of Jon Ralston,” a Las Vegas-based journalist.

“(We) kind of restructured the book to the theme that it carries, which is the comparison of the metamorphoses of my own family with that of Nevada in general and Las Vegas in particular, because my dad was one of the early gaming pioneers, and, like, all his contemporaries, he came from illegal gaming. That’s where he got his experience. He was a bookie in Chicago and he lived in that world, which was a world that had elements related to organized crime.”

Miller said the book he traces his childhood, his growing pains and finally his 10 years as Nevada’s governor, between 1989 and 1999.

“Most people who read it come away and say it’s a great bit of Nevada history. They’re not talking about me; they’re talking about the history of Nevada in general,” he said. “There’s aspects, for example, the aftermath of the Rodney King decision, how we handled that in Las Vegas, I think was an interest to people.”

Some things were not interesting enough to include, despite their importance, he said.

“What we didn’t put in there was the chapter on reforming workmen’s (compensation) because I didn’t think there were that many people who had insomnia, even those it was consequential in terms of Nevada’s budget,” Miller said.

When it comes to the future, Miller looked back at the days when his sparring partner was the recently deceased William Raggio of Reno.

“You know, I was fortunate. I came through at an era when Bill Raggio was the loyal opposition. Even though we started out on different sides, both of us knew that we were going to reach common middle ground,” he said. “Bill said before he passed away that compromise is not a dirty word. Unfortunately, I don’t know if that is true of late.”