The New York Times bestselling history of the glamour and debauchery of the ultra-wealthy Palm Beach community--from The Breakers to Trump's Mar-a-Lago.
For more than a hundred years, Palm Beach has been an exclusive and exotic universe of wealth and privilege in America. And until Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme devastated its eternally sunny world, the reality of this affluent enclave has rarely been exposed to outsiders.
Now, in Madness Under the Royal Palms, resident insider Laurence Leamer reveals the secrets and scandals of this South Florida island via a cast of characters that includes social climbers, trophy wives, sugar daddies, glamorous widows and their "escorts," sociopathic multimillionaires, and elegant society queens. Dive into the unbelievable true story of love, lust, money, and murder in a uniquely American paradise.
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for the chapter Palm Beach Millionaire Seeks Playmate gave the author access to his personal papers, including unpublished memoirs). The book's highly visual vignettes dominated by divorce, infidelity, excessive drinking and violence produce a depressing picture of sad, angry, insecure and frequently nasty people hiding behind empty smiles, luxury cars and socially invisible servants. Leamer reflects: Like James, I found that few of the lives have the beauty of the surroundings, or the depths of the artistic vision that inspired this island. Some readers may find this book a penetrating portrayal of a privileged segment of the American population; others might regard it as a book-length gossip column.