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Palm Beach, Mar-A-Lago, and the Rise of America's Xanadu

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  20 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Looking at the island of Palm Beach today, with its unmatched mansions, tony shops, and pristine beaches, one is hard pressed to visualize the dense tangle of Palmetto brush and mangroves that it was when visionary entrepreneur and railroad tycoon Henry Flagler first arrived there in April 1893. Trusting his remarkable instincts, within less than a year he had built the Ro ...more
Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published November 5th 2019 by Atlandic Monthly Press
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Valerity (Val)
This book is about the development of Palm Beach (and other parts of the east coast of Florida) by Henry Flagler beginning in the late 1800s, but it’s so much more. There’s lots of background on Flagler and other moguls that is eye-opening. Flagler began with putting in a railroad that would go to St. Augustine and built a hotel and thought he was done. But he kept on going down the coast, finding ever more lovely places. He built a huge hotel in Palm Beach where there was basically nothing, aft ...more
Jena Henry
Aug 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have been bubbling over and entertaining my friends and family with scenes and stories from this wonderful fairytale history of Palm Beach. That’s all I’ve been talking about- so let me share my findings with you, my reading friends. The title of this book spotlights the places in Florida we’ll be learning about in author Les Standiford’s engaging non-fiction history. But in truth, this is a character driven book not a dry book about buildings and cities, and will we meet some characters!

When
...more
Annarella
Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A well researched and fascinating book, engrossing and informative.
I loved the style of writing and the storytelling.
Highly recommended!
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
Janet
May 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸.

Looking at the island of Palm Beach today, with its unmatched mansions, tony shops, and pristine beaches, one is hard-pressed to visualize the dense tangle of Palmetto brush and mangroves that it was when visionary entrepreneur and railroad tycoon Henry Flagler
...more
SundayAtDusk
This book was an interesting look at the development of Florida, and how both old money and the nouveau riche made the state what it is today. At times, I became disinterested in all the details of the building of magnificent mansions, but there was enough material on the individuals who had those mansions built to keep me reading, such as on Marjorie Merriweather Post.

(Note: I received a free e-ARC of this book from NetGalley and the publisher or author.)
Melanie Johnson
Aug 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First let me say that this book is not all about Donald Trump. It is more about the history of Palm Beach and how it became the "playground of the old money folks". I have lived in Florida (St. Augustine) so I knew some of the history about Henry Flagler but found this to be very interesting and learned so much more. The history came alive as I was transported back to a time when there was no Disney World, Miami night life or even a railroad that could take you past Jacksonville.
I also lov
...more
Nancy
Nov 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mansions, Famous People, History and Scandal

Mar-a-Lago conjures up opulence, fame, and scandal, as does Palm Beach itself. The history of Palm Beach began with Henry Flagler in 1895. Flagler’s contribution was to build a railroad down Florida to Key West. In addition, he built famous homes along the coast of Florida and hotels like The Breakers. His two marriages set the stage for eccentricity and scandal.

Perhaps the best known of the mansions, particularly today is Mar-a
...more
Tom Schulte
Sep 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
[I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

Probably like many, I was attracted to read about Mar-A-Lago because of the Trump association. Actually, at some point he said something like "Now it really has become the southern White House" and that piqued my interest. The Trump part here is three decades of history that feels tacked on and rushed. There are interesting anecdotes and legal cases that suggest the man is small-minded,
...more
Susan
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It took the genius of Henry Flagler to see a future in the heat and bug filled swamps of Florida and to create Palm Beach. He built his own railroad, his own hotels and, as the saying goes, if you build it, they will come. Florida soon became the place to build a second mansion and live the high life. And live it, they did and they still do as Mar-a-Lago will attest. The journey from swamp to its nick name Southern White House is a fascinating story and is very well written. There is solid histo ...more
Natalie
Sep 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a really enjoyable read! What could have been a dull history of the rise of Palm Beach turned out to be romp through the foibles of those who made Palm Beach one of the “high” society centers of America.

Going through some of the stories of the residents read like a tabloid. Exciting lives, multiple marriages, sexual shenanigans and monetary manipulation. Oh such fun!

This book is especially well-researched and the true stories of the denizens of Palm Beach and the histories
...more
Nancy
Aug 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Les Standiford's history of Palm Beach can be appreciated on many levels---as a vibrant history of the development of South Florida, as a fascinating peek at the gilded existence of a few visionary individuals, or as an inside look at the rise of "resort living." I loved every minute of this book.

Despite the fact that I grew up in South Florida (Coral Gables) , I was not aware of the colorful stories about the development of St. Augustine, Palm Beach and Miami. Standford's book is em
...more
Carole Knoles
Aug 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Of course almost everyone is aware of Mar A Lago’s current incarnation as a “Southern Whitehouse” and some will remember it’s previous status as a residence of the late society grand dame Marjorie Merriweather Post but the book starts with the fascinating story of Palm Beach before the construction of all the grand homes and social cachet. That story begins with the vision of robber baron Henry Flagler and actually put me somewhat in mind of the vision in the mind of gangster Bugsy Siegel for th ...more
June
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa, history
Les Standiford spins a great yarn. He weaves the stories of the people who developed the mosquito-filled swamp into Florida's poshest retreat and the people who have loved the Mar-a-Lago mansion and its predecessor seamlessly together. I had no idea that Henry Flagler had done so much in the development of the area. The author is also very even-handed with his treatment of the current owner, trying to make sense of the ever-changing, highly embellished stories that the Orange Menace has told abo ...more
Kristine
Palm Beach, Mar-a-Lago, and the Rise of America's Xanadu by Les Standiford is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late October.

Chapters on the well-financed fantastic mansions and estates built during the 1920s and the oft-fraught, multi-marital, maddened lives of the people who built them, Floridian history, average people flocking to a healthy seaside (like off-shoot families of the European and East Coast upper-class), waves of design trends, decadent fetes, and being marred and doomed by
...more
Sandra
Sep 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
While traveling the Mediterranean I was honored to read about a beloved former lived-in-state and one of many iconic buildings that I have been wanting to see since living in Florida in 1994. Palm Beach is where you know you want to visit, want to shop on its famous boulevard, to experience the hubbub that spirits the area, however to me I have always wanted to just wander the beach to see the great homes that reside there. It’s always been a dream to step into the rich and fabulous world of the ...more
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Les Standiford is a historian and author and has since 1985 been the Director of the Florida International University Creative Writing Program. Standiford has been awarded the Frank O'Connor Award for Short Fiction, a Florida Individual Artist Fellowship in Fiction, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction, and belongs to the Associated Writing Programs, Mystery Writers of Ameri ...more