When Ron Coury left the Marines, having seen the Vietnam War grind to a halt before he was stationed, government programs allowed him to re-skill, and he chose to dive into sin city and the tough world of Las Vegas gambling. At first Coury was a card dealer, but he had bigger ambitions, working his way into bar ownership, and double-jobbing as a real estate agent. Eventually, his bars featured the ubiquitous city gambling machines, and Coury’s interests were spread far and wide, incorporating signage, glass production.
Rather than focusing primarily on how he built his businesses we learn that Coury was a niche finder and prepared to graft for what he got. But the day-to-day experiences are mostly absent and large portions of the book center around Vegas’ seediness and its bitter and corrupt environs. The neighboring town of ‘Opportunity’, ironically, presents Coury’s biggest challenges, with the authorities taking against the entrepreneur and his partners to the extent that they’re willing to not only block licensing attempts, but also to try and criminalize Coury by alleging a serious assault against a thieving employee, and carrying out a dangerous ensnarement of a drug dealer in his car park.
Coury himself is necessarily cut and thrust, and certainly, at times, comes across as an aggressive businessman. The details of how he compromised his family’s safety in starting a Limo business–to the point that his wife left him for a number of years–are brushed over in favor of financial success stories. These include the purchasing of a bar at far below market rate due to the owner’s financial troubles, which is portrayed as a victory, though there’s a fairly clear element of exploitation involved, too.
These details do make the businesses come across as a little less than pure at times, but that, perhaps is the nature of Las Vegas business in that era, and a case of doing what it took to get ahead. If readers don’t always sympathize with Coury in his approach, the witty personal tales and devastating impacts of cancer later in life should quickly turn them around. It’s a hardened route to entrepreneurial success that Coury’s taken, and it’s those rough and tumble aspects of his story that make it more interesting than a standard business memoir.
As an insight into the shadiness of Las Vegas, a town that’s always been known for operating a little on the fringes of fairness, Ron Coury’s memoir TENACITY flits between compelling and shocking, with plenty of that titular ‘never-say-die’ mentality. All in, it provides a solid glance ‘through the looking glass’.
~James Hendicott for IndieReader