In this seedily entertaining memoir of low finance, the proprietor of the World Famous Gold and Silver Pawn Shop and star of the History Channel’s Pawn Stars reports from the world of gonzo capitalism, Las Vegas style. Harrison and coauthor Keown are cheerful and honest about the pawnshop biz: the 10% a month interest; the hard-nosed, deceptive bargaining to acquire treasures for a song; the eternal duel with scammers and thieves peddling fakes and stolen goods; the infamous night window where customers line up at 3 a.m. for cash to fuel their addictions.
These operations generate a steady stream of only-in-Vegas stories; there’s the trust funder who gambled away million in 36 hours, the woman who offered her gold tooth for sale and asked for a pair of pliers to extract it, and "the juxtaposition of the nun and the hookers—let’s just say it was surreal." Harrison’s self-mythologizing—"I was a tenth-grade drop-out who read and studied more than most college students"—drags a bit and his meta-saga of TV deal making undercuts the tone of seamy authenticity. Still, this tale of family entrepreneurship is full of intriguing details on the desperate things people do for money.