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Gambling: A Story of Triumph and Disaster
by Mike Atherton

In Paris on the first Sunday in October, the crowds gathered for Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp were also subject to another spectacle. About 10,000 Japanese spectators turned up to cheer on their wonder horse, Deep Impact. What followed was betting on a scale rarely seen in racing as the Japanese backed their hero until they could back no more. By the time Deep Impact went off at odds of 1-10, those who had backed him were losing money and the market was impossibly skewed. The horse lost, the once-prized tickets hit the ground and those left cheering were the few who had backed Andre Fabre's Rail Link at a ridiculous 24-1.

The story of Deep Impact would, no doubt, have raised a rueful smile from Mike Atherton, whose impeccably researched and entertaining book covers such tales. This is the story of men and women who have made a packet one day and lost it the next. We meet men such as Ray Joseph, who spends his days sitting in his impersonal house flanked by computers, pro-poker players, old and young, and horse fanatics. We meet those for whom gambling is a mathematical certainty and those brought to the brink by addiction.

Throughout, Atherton records the highs and lows with a clear eye. A small-scale gambler himself, he neither condemns nor condones but, instead, explores the history of Britain's relationship with gambling, from 17th-century earls placing lunatic bets to decadent games of chemin de fer in John Aspinall's private clubs in the Sixties and the more clinical internet betting of today. He is adept at capturing the adrenaline rush that accompanies the thrill of winning, yet this is no paean to the beauty of betting. Atherton notes that Britain has as many as 400,000 gambling addicts and is equally concerned about the psychology, the possible effects of proposed supercasino legislation and the links with match-fixing.

Thought-provoking, witty and elegantly written, Gambling, is the essential companion for those who like a flutter, seasoned gamblers and anyone who wants to understand one of those most pressing issues in modern Britain.

Mike Atherton was educated at Manchester Grammar School and Cambridge University. He was made captain of the England cricket team in 1993 at the age of 25. He is the author of the acclaimed autobiography Opening Up:

Hardcover - 352 pages (7 Sep 2006)   £11.39    $24.64 
Paperback - 352 pages (6 Sep 2007)   £8.99    $18.18 


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