Saturday, January 22, 2011
Bombing Harvey - Based on a true story
I had the amazing opportunity to co-author this book with John Birges Jr., the son of the man who, in 1980, placed a 1,000-pound bomb inside Harvey's Casino at Lake Tahoe, Nevada, with the intent of extorting $3,000,000.00.
John Birges Sr., was a Hungarian Scientist. When the Nazis invaded Hungary, he was forced to join the German Luftwaffe and was trained as a pilot. He scored thirteen kills before his plane was shot down and he found himself in a Russian prison camp. With all odds against him, he managed to escape-first from the prison then from the war, finding his way to America, and Clovis, California with is wife, Elisabet. There, he became a successful business man. But with wealth came the a dramatic change in his life and gambling became his obsession as well as the beginning of his downfall.
The story is told in first person by John Birges, Jr. who was an eye-witness as well as a participant to much of what is written. His father first demanded his help and that of his brother, Jim, in stealing the necessary items needed to build the bomb, then baited him into helping build the bomb, itself. In telling his story, John Jr. gives the reader a harrowing look into the life of his father, a man driven by a gambling addiction.
To bring this book to life, information was gathered from many different sources including: Las Vegas Review-Journal, Fresno Bee, Tahoe Daily Tribune, North Lake Tahoe Bonanza, The New Your Times, A&E's City Confidential, Season ll, Episode 7. The History Channel's FBI Files, 2005 episode. FBI files and reports on the investigation obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Much of the work done in gathering this information was done by Linda Cowell, who's efforts made this book possible.
Co-authoring this book with John Jr. has been a unique experience for me, as I became fascinated with his story. I've never met John in person and only had two conversations over the phone with him during the months we worked together. Everything was done via e-mail or through Linda Cowell. There were times when John and I didn't totally agree on how to put a chapter together, but we each gave in a little and it worked.
Thank you, John, for letting me co-author "Bombing Harvey."