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Madness Under the Royal Palms: Love and Death Behind the Gates of Palm Beach

3.13 of 5 stars 3.13  ·  rating details  ·  396 ratings  ·  89 reviews
Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme has devastated the eternally sunny world of Palm Beach, bringing down multimillionaires and destroying once wealthy widows. At the center of the scandal is the isolated, insulated winter home of the mega wealthy. Suddenly, everyone in America is talking about the South Florida island and the rarified life so apart from the rest of America. Eve ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published January 20th 2009 by Hachette Books (first published 2009)
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Community Reviews

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Although i can't say I was surprised by the content of this book, I did find it hard to put down. No it doesn't surprise me that the ultra-wealthy have no class, morals, compassion or care for anyone other than themselves, they've always been as such. Never ONCE have I met someone with money who doesn't TRY to make me feel inferior or unworthy of their company. Emphasis on "try" of course, because I certainly don't envy their lives, their cars, their clothing, their homes. Give me my middle clas ...more
A Quote from Madness..."Palm Beach is full of people pierced by sorrows brought on by the pursuit of money. It sets wives against husbands, children against stepmothers, the young against the old, and the healthy against the infirm."

this is one of the worst books I've ever ready, probably because it's all true. But beyond that, it was just painfully boring and on a topic that I have absolutely NO interest in...

I didn't know what this book was about before I read it for book club or I would never
Leamer's book is interesting enough to finish, but he's not a contender for Dominick Dunne's title. Dunne is still the master of the celebutante true crime genre. Leamer obviously spent many years living in Palm Beach and one can understand his reluctance to portray friends and acquaintances in a harsh light - but all too often, his gossipy stories of hangers-on and trophy wives read like a schoolgirl's attempt to join the popular clique by spreading tales about the class slut. Perhaps we're jus ...more
Bailey Caskey
Aug 12, 2010 Bailey Caskey rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: NOBODY
I have a difficult time NOT finishing books, no matter how bad. But life is too short to waste on bad books. The intro to this book lead me to believe I was going to embark on exciting tale about a mysterious culture and intriguing characters (much like that of "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil). However, it instantly fell short with its boring, tediously detailed writing (each chapter is basically a biography of each character). It also fell short with it's subject matter. The real peopl ...more
The written equivalent of one of those tawdry, true-life murder shows you see on Netflix all the time, 'Madness Under the Royal Palms' can be interesting at times but drags on much too often and gets bogged down in the least interesting details while fast forwarding through it's own bread and butter.

Author Laurence Leamer, moved to Palm Beach and met some of the high society's hanger-ons and uses them as the main meat of his story. An ambitious woman working hard to raise her millionaire Jewish
After recently having visited "the island", I was interested to read this book. I mistakenly thought it was in the 'True Crime' genre. Not sure why that was my assumption, and although it did talk about several crimes and one murder specifically, I found it more a study of the history, personalities, and properties of Palm Beach.

And I'm not sure how accurate that description is as I found very little information on the Joseph Kennedy house, which to me is maybe the 3nd most famous residence in P
A well-written expose on how the pursuit of money and status for the sake of money and status has the power to make people live a principle-less, disturbing life.
Sharman Egan
Dreadful (not just the topic but the writing). I made it to pg 67, only because I'm waiting on some other books and needed something to read.
Sooo boring. Could barely get through this book.
Leamer (The Kennedy Women) reveals the secrets of the Palm Beach elite who reside behind the high walls and manicured hedges of this exclusive enclave. A winter resident since 1994, the author gains the trust of his subjects, playing tennis with them and attending their parties. Such firsthand experience is supplemented by newspaper articles and interviews with scores of men and women who, although usually guarded, are unusually open to Leamer (the informant for the chapter "Palm Beach Millionai ...more
Karen Syed
I am not sure what to say about this audio book. I have a weird way of choosing what audio books I will listen to. I go to the local bookstore and I search through the New Releases section and I input the titles that look interesting to me into my iTouch and then I buy the unabridged audios from Audible.

I don't know what I was thinking on that day because I ended up in the Non-Fiction aisle of new releases where I ran across the not-so-striking cover of Madness Under the Royal Palms. It is a ve
Listen up, America. When an author announces that he/she is writing a book about your community, be careful what you say out loud. Sure, Laurence Leamer was upfront about his plans to write about the super wealthy, super exclusive community of Palm Beach, but ye gods. What were you people thinking? Okay, I have always heard that money can't buy you happiness--although I would like to test that theory for myself--and in this depressingly gossipy book, Leamer sets out to prove the truth of that st ...more

Holy crackers but this book is terrible. Leamer is a horrible writer and somehow manages to make what should be very interesting subject matter dull and confusing. I understand that Leamer is very well-traveled, but just because you're well-traveled doesn't make you a good writer and therefore doesn't mean you should write about your adventures.

Seriously, this book is so very poorly written. The author jumps all over the place and never gets it together. It was so bad I couldn't even finish.
Kathy Gardner
Really quite revealing about the wealthy and their lives in Palm Beach. Laurence Leamer seems to really know the characters and reveals them at their best and worst in a fascinating, I want to read some more way.
I know some of it is accurate from my contacts and I think he has enough interest to do a follow up on some of the aging characters or simply a new book on the nouveaus who've appeared in the last ten years.
The author tells a story involving a socialite determined to make it to the top of Palm Beach society, two infamous murders, and a powerful society reporter, which is a clash between old money and new, religion and status, and the love, lust, and hatreds that determine the shape of a society. Mildly interesting novel.
Hmmm...yet again I find myself on the low end of the rating scale for a book that was fairly well liked by others. Perhaps I am becoming too picky in my advancing years.

The dust jacket of this book promised pages of love, death, murder and intiruge and it delivered gossip, dysfunction and boredom. Telling the tale of the rich, but not necessarily famous, of Palm Beach, the author offers an US Magazine look at the seedy ongoings behind the walls of one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the Unite
I thought this was interesting, especially since it is written in the first person by Palm Beach resident Laurence Leamer. He analyzes the social standards of the in group and quietly points out their shallowness, arrogance, duplicity, and prejudices. I really like the statement he made, something to the effect that money and manners don't make morals. Makes me want to stay far, far away from this lifestyle---but I sure would like to see the town! The book, however, seems to ramble a bit and cer ...more
Lexie Huber
What a hot mess! I read almost 200 pages and couldn't figure out what the author was trying to tell me. The author introduces you to literally dozens of people and includes their bios, but does so in a nonsensical way. Time and dates are random as he jumps all over nearly 100 years of history. Transition from one person's story to another's is awful or non-existent.

In the end, I am not sure what this was supposed to be about. All of the people could probably support a biography that is captivat
Nancy F. Mynard
Now I know why I never liked florda

oh dear, the craziness and bourgeoisie. thank goodness I'm a nice middle class Peron from the Midwest
they deserved what they got
Mari Anne
Titillating but shallow. I expected more out of this book. It's clear that Mr. Leamer is no Dominick Dunne (pity). Leamer only seemed to scratch the surface of the many people written about in the book and it barely kept my interest. The book is also poorly edited with many of the stories spread out over multiple chapters. It's hard to keep track of who was who and the time line of exactly when events transpired. Considering his book spans over one hundred years this is a pretty major pitfall. W ...more
Since this is a true story of life, loves, lusts and murder in Palm Beach FL, I can tell you that it certainly didn't make me want to be a part of such a community! The rich all want to be the richest,which they seem to think makes them the best. To do so, they befriend those who can help them too the next step up. Once there, the friendship ends and they may even become enemies. People are very shallow and will manipulate anyone to get what they want. The change from "old money" to the present ...more
Leamer gives an unedited view of the Palm Beach aristocracy. It is an historical and anthropologic view of wealth and what it's patrons do with it. As he describes old and new money as well as religion and status, one sees so many people with less moral ethics than hoodlums to the point where it is easy to overlook those with high ethical standards. Leamer has had his life threatened by some he writes about as well as those Palm Beach residents who do not want their community besmirched. I had t ...more
E Wilson

Wow. I always thought Las Vegas was the most greedy and soulless
city in the USA, but now I guess that distinction goes to Palm Beach.
Maybe anybody that had a grain of humanity in them was just too boring to write about. It was interesting to see how championship "users"
fought to see who could out use the other. Petty petty petty people.
I think the author was just as shallow as those he was writing about.
I get the impression he wormed his way into their society just to
write this book. The book d
1. Amazing, 2. Captivating, 3. Horrifying. Hard to believe this is non-fiction
This book is a typical gossipy look at the lifestyles and characters of some of the mega wealthy who spend time wintering in Palm Beach Florida. There is nothing in this book to commend the people or their lifestyles - the same superficial people at the same superficial parties in an endless cycle of food and wine and designer dresses. I wonder if Laurence Leamer has met Julian Fellowes (author of Snobs and Past Imperfect)? They both seem to have a lot in common - both secretly itching to be a p ...more
3.5 stars. Easily would have been 4 stars if the writer wouldn't have tried to insert himself as a character. Sometimes that works. Here it didn't. But it was an enthralling read.
Palm Beach is manicured to the max - people and places. This is a story of the cracks behind the facades - we know of the gap between the haves & have nots, but here's the divide between the old haves & the new haves in all its detail: from old men with trophy wives and their corollaries - gold-digging "walkers" who escort the rich widows, to aggressive New Yorkers (think the Donald) who've changed the culture of a place that once defined the cream of culture. Perfect for a vacation read ...more
This author seems to have wangled his way into the company of his super rich high society neighbors in West Palm Beach, then written unflattering portraits of their personal lives. His task was pretty simple. Many of them are very superficial, status conscious individuals. And he also dug up a couple of salacious murders that were committed over the years. If you like raunchy gossip and are curious about how the other half lives, this is your book.
couldn't get through it, and this was on audiobook, too! basically a long "who's who" of palm beach circa 1997, if you care. i didn't. he teases you with the idea that someone is going to die, and it'll be this great murder mystery, but the murder took too long to happen. i was halfway through the audio book and no one had died yet, it was just vignettes about rich people spending money and stabbing each other in the back.
A gossipy mish-mash about a number of people (rich, rich, rich people: widows, old men with trophy wives, the struggle to be part of the in-crowd, bigotry in all forms, etc.) told by a man who lived there for a number of years; maybe still does. Surprisingly, not as interesting as I had hoped it would be. Author twice referred to someone as a "cured introvert," like being an introvert is a disease!
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Laurence Leamer has written fourteen books including five New York Times bestsellers. He has worked in a factory in France, a coal mine in West Virginia and as a Peace Corps volunteer in a remote village in Nepal two days from a road. He has written one novel but is primarily known for his nonfiction, especially a trilogy on the Kennedys. His new book, The Price of Justice, is the story of two Pit ...more
More about Laurence Leamer...
The Kennedy Women: The Saga of an American Family The Kennedy Men: 1901-1963 The Price of Justice: A True Story of Greed and Corruption Fantastic: The Life of Arnold Schwarzenegger King of the Night: The Life of Johnny Carson

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