Les Standiford

Cindy Seip

Les Standiford is the author of the bestselling Last Train to Paradise: Henry Flagler and the Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Railroad that Crossed an Ocean, Water to the Angels: William Mulholland, His Monumental Aqueduct, and the Rise of Los Angeles, other works of fiction and nonfiction. It’s hard to see Palm Beach today and visualize the dense tangle of Palmetto brush and mangroves that it was when entrepreneur and railroad tycoon Henry Flagler first arrived there in April 1893. Within less than a year he had built the Royal Poinciana Hotel, and two years later what was to become the legendary Breakers― instantly establishing the island as the preferred destination for those who could afford it. Over the next 125 years, Palm Beach became synonymous with exclusivity. In Palm Beach, Mar-a-Lago, and the Rise of America’s Xanadu (Atlantic Monthly Press), Standiford tells the history of this landscape and  the lives of its famous (and infamous) protagonists – from Flagler and Marjorie Merriweather Post and her husband E. F. Hutton (for whom Mar-a-Lago was built) to Donald J. Trump. In its review of Standiford’s Water to the Angels, The New York Times Book Review noted the author’s talent to capture certain themes and characters and it applies to Palm Beach …: “Hubris and gilded dreams are good subjects for Standiford, who has previously written about Henry Frick and Andrew Carnegie, among others; he artfully captures small moments while maintaining the historian’s broader view. “