Non-Fiction Books:

The Age of Chance

Gambling in Western Culture


Paperback / softback

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The Age of Chance by Gerda Reith
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From the Apophoreta of Imperial Rome to the ersatz grandeur of Las Vegas, from ritual divination to weekly lottery fever, individuals have pitted themselves against the chaotic forces of Fate. The Age of Reason promised to bring such forces within our control, but as we look around us, it appears that life has never been more uncertain: risk, speculation and flux are our constant companions. We have entered the Age of Chance. Characteristic of this age is the increasing popularity of gambling throughout western society. Gerda Reith examines its enduring appeal, exploring its complex relation to our underlying conceptions of the world, and to the social and cultural backgrounds of those who fall under its spell. Using a wide range of sources, she traces the origins of gambling in the ancient world and follows its manifestation in games as diverse as the patolli of the Aztecs and the Internet gambling of today. From an analysis of social structure, she goes on to consider the subjective experiences and attitudes of individual players, discovering some remarkable continuities: the same deliberate seeking out of risk, a disregard for money and a variety of superstitious beliefs in luck and Destiny seem to typify gamblers throughout history and across cultures. This fascinating and extensive study, enlivened by interviews with British and American gamblers, will be enthralling reading not just for those interested in the cultural and social implications of gambling - researchers in sociology, cultural studies and the history of ideas - but for anyone interested in how we create meaning in an increasingly insecure world.
Release date Australia
January 17th, 2002
Country of Publication
United Kingdom
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