The inspirational and little-known story of welfare mothers in Las Vegas, America’s Sin City, who crafted an original response to poverty-from the ground up
In Storming Caesars Palace, historian Annelise Orleck tells the compelling story of how a group of welfare mothers built one of this country’s most successful antipoverty programs. Declaring “We can do it and do it better,” these women proved that poor mothers are the real experts on poverty. In 1972 they founded Operation Life, which was responsible for many firsts for the poor in Las Vegas-the first library, medical center, daycare center, job training, and senior citizen housing. By the late 1970s, Operation Life was bringing millions of dollars into the community. These women became influential in Washington, DC-respected and listened to by political heavyweights such as Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Ted Kennedy, and Jimmy Carter. Though they lost their funding with the country’s move toward conservatism in the 1980s, their struggles and phenomenal triumphs still stand as a critical lesson about what can be achieved when those on welfare chart their own course.
“An up-close and personal account of nine strong-minded African-American women who became welfare-rights activists in Las Vegas . . . A worthy history of the country’s changing attitudes toward welfare and the various attempts to eradicate poverty.” -Kirkus Reviews
“This amazing story is like a truly great novel, the revelation of a world unknown.” -Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina
“A poignant counterpoint to the current culture of cynicism and despair. After reading Storming Caesars Palace, you’ll want to get up and do something to make the world a better place.” -Hagar Scher, Chicago Tribune
“What a lovely book of hope! With grace and with rigor, Annelise Orleck presents the War on Poverty from the field and the vantage point of poor mothers.” -Nell Irvin Painter, author of Sojourner Truth
“This stunning book gives new meaning to the notion of history from the bottom up.” -Alice Kessler-Harris, author of In Pursuit of Equity