The Season: Inside Palm Beach and America's Richest Society

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9780060193911: The Season: Inside Palm Beach and America's Richest Society

Palm Beach is known around the world as the most wealthy, glamorous, opulent, decadent, self-indulgent, sinful spot on earth. With their beautiful 3.75 square-island constantly in the media glare, Palm Beachers protect their impossibly rich society from outside scrutiny with vigilant police, ubiquitous personal security staffs, and screens of tall hedges encircling every mansion.

To this bizarre suspicious, exclusive world, New York Times bestselling author Ronald Kessler brought his charm, insight, and award-winning investigative skills, and came to know Palm Beach, its celebrated and powerful residents, and its exotic social rituals as no outside writer ever has. In this colorful, entertaining, and compulsively readable book. Kessler reveals the inside story of Palm Beach society as it moves languidly through the summer months, quickens in the fall, and shifts into frenetic high speed as the season begins in December, peaks in January and February, and continues into April.

When unimaginable wealth combines with unlimited leisure time oil an island barely three times the size of New York's Central Park, human foibles and desires, lust and greed, passion and avarice, become magnified and intensified. Like laboratory rats fed growth hormones, the 9,800 Palm Beach residents--87 percent of whom are millionaires--exhibit the most outlandish extremes of their breed.

To tell the story, Kessler follows four Palm Beachers through the season. These four characters--the reigning queen of Palm Beach society, the night manager of Palm Beach's trendiest bar, a gay "walker" who escorts wealthy women to balls, and a thirty--six-year-old gorgeous blonde who says she "can't find a guy in Palm Beach"--know practically everyone on the island and tell what goes on behind the scenes.

Interweaving the yarns of these unfor-gettable figures with the lifestyle, history, scandals, lore, and rituals of a unique island of excess, The Season creates a powerful, seamless, juicy narrative that no novelist could dream up.

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Review:

In books such as The FBI and Inside Congress, Ronald Kessler turned his journalist's eye, its focus honed during years at The Washington Post, to uncovering the scandals behind America's biggest institutions; his research even led to the deposition of a director of the FBI. So, what secrets has he uncovered that will change the lives of Palm Beach denizens? Not many, as it turns out. Mistresses, breast implants, and other high-living extravagances of the Palm Beach rich aren't secrets after all. Nor does Kessler have the literary gifts of John Berendt, who deftly explored small-town society intrigue in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. The characters that populate The Season are straight out of Dynasty: "shapely" and "alluring," "raven-haired," or "spectacular blonds with impossibly tight behinds." If there's anything truly shocking about this book, it's witnessing Kessler's remarkable research skills put to such trivial use. As a frothy page-turner The Season earns its price, but as a cultural study it's as insubstantial as the lives it chronicles. --Maria Dolan

About the Author:

Ronald Kessler is the New York Times bestselling author of Inside the White House, The FBI, Inside the CIA, The Sins of the Father: Joseph P. Kennedy and the Dynasty He Founded, Moscow Station, and The Richest Man in the World. A former Washington Post and Wall Street Journal investigative reporter, Kessler has won sixteen journalism awards, including two George Polk Awards. He lives in Potomac, Maryland.

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