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. Everyone wants to know what are the deepest truths of this strange, exotic universe of wealth and privilege. In MADNESS UNDER THE ROYAL PALMS, Laurence Leamer has the answers. It took him fifteen years to get them, and to expose the inner life and drama of the wealthy as it has never been exposed before. It is an often shocking, scandalous book that will forever change not only the way Palm Beach is viewed but the life of wealth and privilege in America.
Murder. Money. The Madoff way of life. The book all of Palm Beach is talking about
By Scott EymanPalm Beach Post Friday, January 23, 2009Laurence Leamer's Madness Under the Royal Palms: Love and Death Behind the Gates of Palm Beach (Hyperion) establishes its tone early, with a quote from Alexis de Tocqueville: "It is difficult to describe the rapacity with which the American rushes forward to secure the immense booty which fortune proffers to him. Fortune awaits them everywhere, but happiness they can not attain."Leamer's book is a devastating account of a beautiful place caught between money old and new. Beneath its pristine surface, Leamer says, Palm Beach is a place where anti-Semitism remains institutionalized and the most deranged pretension is acceptable.The book is mainly about class, and it spares few, especially not the sociopath Fred Keller (Leamer was the only reporter Keller talked to after he was jailed for murdering his wife).What makes it all the more disturbing is that it's written from the inside; Leamer is a distinguished historian, whose credits include Sons of Camelot and The Kennedy Women, as well as excellent biographies of Ingrid Bergman and Arnold Schwarzenegger.He also has a weather eye for politics, celebrity and — especially — power. Not only that, but he lives on the island, and has for nearly 20 years.Madness Under the Royal Palms creates an indelible portrait of the high cost extracted from a society devoted to little but outward appearance.