Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Book review: "License to Pawn"

If you like the History Channel show “Pawn Stars,” you’ll love this book. “License to Pawn” offers a fun and enlightening behind-the-scenes look at the show and its stars – Rick Harrison, Big Hoss, Old Man and Chumlee.

The book has dozens of great stories and anecdotes about characters who make their home at Las Vegas’ World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop. One I liked was Big Hoss’ story of the woman who asked to borrow a pair of pliers, then returned to the shop with a bloody mouth and some gold teeth to pawn. The shop’s unusual method of dealing with shoplifters – take away their driver’s license, so they’ll be forced to go to the DMV – is memorable. And Rick’s story of trying to steal his dad’s motorhome as a 14-year-old was worth a laugh, and says a lot about his upbringing. 

Even without the TV show, this would be an interesting book that shows how a pawn shop operates. I suspect there are a lot of people like me who have never, or rarely, been in a pawn shop and had only a vague idea of how the business works. And you might even learn a thing or two about collectibles.

The book is entirely first-person, mostly by Rick Harrison, but there are separate chapters by Big Hoss, Old Man and Chumlee. The hidden star in the book is ghostwriter Tim Keown, who doesn’t even get credit on the cover, but I have no doubt wrote much of the text. Chumlee, for instance, admits in his chapter that, “I don’t spell very good at all. I don’t know where periods and commas go.” No doubt, Keown polished up that chapter and many others.


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