Positively Fifth Street by James McManus
Murderers, Cheetahs, and Binion's World Series of Poker

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Rough sex, black magic, murder, and the science--and eros--of gambling meet in the ultimate book about Las Vegas

James McManus was sent to Las Vegas by Harper's to cover the World Series of Poker in 2000, especially the mushrooming progress of women in the $23 million event, and the murder of Ted Binion, the tournament's prodigal host, purportedly done in by a stripper and her boyfriend with a technique so outré it took a Manhattan pathologist to identify it. Whether a jury would convict the attractive young couple was another story altogether.

McManus risks his entire Harper's advance in a long-shot attempt to play in the tournament himself. Only with actual table experience, he tells his skeptical wife, can he capture the hair-raising brand of poker that determines the world champion. The heart of the book is his deliciously suspenseful account of the tournament itself--the players, the hand-to-hand combat, and his own unlikely progress in it.

Written in the tradition of The Gambler and The Biggest Game in Town, Positively Fifth Street is a high-stakes adventure, a penetrating study of America's card game, and a terrifying but often hilarious account of one man's effort to understand what Edward O. Wilson has called "Pleistocene exigencies"--the eros and logistics of our primary competitive instincts.


About James McManus

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James McManus is a novelist and poet, and most recently the winner of the Peter Lisagor Award for sports journalism. He teaches writing and comparative literature at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, including a course on the literature and science of poker.
Published April 1, 2007 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 436 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences, Humor & Entertainment, Sports & Outdoors, Education & Reference, Travel. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Positively Fifth Street

Kirkus Reviews

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Novelist and poet McManus (Going to the Sun, 1996, etc.) sits in on the World Series of Poker.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Positively Fifth Street: Murd...

Publishers Weekly

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It's a safe bet that no one at Harper's expected novelist McManus, who the magazine sent to Las Vegas to cover the 2000 World Series of Poker, to parlay

Jun 02 2003 | Read Full Review of Positively Fifth Street: Murd...

Book Reporter

Dad played poker and Mom played bridge, but.

Jan 22 2011 | Read Full Review of Positively Fifth Street: Murd...

AV Club

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Referring to himself as "the opposite of gonzo" in Positively Fifth Street–a sprawling and frequently dazzling account of luck, greed,...

Jan 14 2017 | Read Full Review of Positively Fifth Street: Murd...

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Feb 15 2003 | Read Full Review of Positively Fifth Street: Murd...

The Best Reviews

Once McManus arrives at Las Vegas' Horseshoe .

Jan 14 2017 | Read Full Review of Positively Fifth Street: Murd...

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Eric Carrera 7 Aug 2014

Rated the book as 5 out of 5