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With the authority and narrative prose style that has gained Standiford’s work widespread acclaim,Palm Beach, Mar-a-Lago, and the Rise of America’s Xanadu tells the history of this fabled landscape intertwined with the colorful lives of its famous protagonists. Flagler’s own marriages to Ida Alice Shourds and Mary Lily Kenan perhaps initiated the dramas to come. While sewing machine heir Paris Singer and architect Addison Mizner created the “Mediterranean look” of Palm Beach in the 1910s, inspiring the building of such modern day palaces as Eva and Ed Stotesbury’s “El Mirasol,” the centerpiece of Palm Beach became the fever dreamof Marjorie Merriweather Post and her equally wealthy husband E. F. Hutton, for whom Ziegfeld Follies designer Joseph Urban built “Mar-a-Lago” in 1927. Marjorie “ruled” social Palm Beach through two other marriages and for years on her own until her death in 1973. The fate of her mansion threatened to tear apart the very fabric of the town until Donald Trump acquired it in 1985.
Les Standiford brings alive a fabled place and the characters—the rich, famous and infamous alike—who have been drawn inexorably to it.