Cover image for The season : inside Palm Beach and America's richest society
The season : inside Palm Beach and America's richest society
Kessler, Ronald, 1943-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins Publishers, [1999]

Physical Description:
x, 326 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : color illustrations, map ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.

Map on endpapers.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F319.P2 K47 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
F319.P2 K47 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
F319.P2 K47 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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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.

Author Notes

Ronald Kessler was born in New York City in 1943. He grew up in Belmont, Massachusetts and attended Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. He is an American journalist and author of 20 nonfiction books.

Kessler worked at the Washington Post for many years. After this he began to write books about current affairs and national intelligence topics. Four of his books were listed on the hardcover nonfiction New York Times Best Seller list. In 2009 he published In the President's Secret Service: Behind the Scenes With Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect. Kessler's The First Family Detail: Secret Service Agents Reveal the Hidden Lives of the Presidents (Crown 2014) made the New York Times bestseller list in August 2014.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Best-selling author and journalist Kessler spent a year living in and researching Palm Beach, Florida, arguably the most insular and exclusive bastion of privilege and prejudice in the contemporary U.S. Concentrating on the all-important social season, running from December through April, the author interviewed Palm Beach insiders, attended extravagant charity balls, and frequented local hot spots in order to comprehend the baroque customs and principles that govern the Palm Beach community. Not surprisingly, his research yields a steamy exposeof a hypocritical exterior society, in which appearance and pedigree are paramount and sexual escapades and scandals de rigueur. Commonly referred to by both residents and visitors as Fantasy Island, Palm Beach provides trust fund babies, celebrities, the nouveau riche, and a cadre of ever-hopeful hangers-on with an indulgent arena in which to participate in elaborate "games of wealth and privilege." An irresistibly titillating and voyeuristic glimpse into the glittering facade and the often gritty underbelly of Palm Beach. --Margaret Flanagan

Publisher's Weekly Review

The tantalizing, and largely borne-out, premise of this dishy expos‚ is that the real-life goings-on in the wealthy resort community of Palm Beach, Fla., are so hedonistically outr‚ as to "make Dynasty and Dallas look like nursery tales." Having originally come to the area to research a book on Joseph Kennedy (The Sins of the Father), former Washington Post reporter Kessler found that life in Palm BeachÄwhere 87% of the residents are millionaires, the local grocery store offers valet parking, bank tellers routinely make house calls, and party-goers shell out some $38 million a year to attend the almost-nightly charity balls held during the December-April "season"Äwas so "bizarre" that the town merited a book of its own. Although one local maintains, "we have the same problems everyone else does. You just add a few zeroes," Kessler's research, conducted during several lengthy stays in Palm Beach, resulted in the hardly surprising but nevertheless titillating conclusion that vast wealth and nearly unlimited leisure time are an often volatile combination. Adultery, plastic surgery and decadent night life all feature prominently here, as do names like Donald Trump, Roxanne Pulitzer and Rod Stewart. But through intimate portraits of some of Palm Beach's less famous residents, Kessler also puts a human face on all the glitz and glamour, revealing that the super-rich can be as painfully insecure, as lonely and even as down-to-earth as the rest of us. While all of that may be nothing new, this is a fun and frothy glimpse into a world that, despite its surface glitter, is, as Kessler astutely observes, characterized by almost as much cliquishness, pettiness and gossip as high school. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Kessler, New York Times best-selling author and former award-winning Washington Post and Wall Street Journal investigative reporter, researched a different kind of secret society this time. As in his previous works, such as FBI and Spy vs. Spy, he immersed himself thoroughly in this assignment. He met the "right" people and was invited to their parties; he interviewed the "old guard" and the "new money." The result, which takes up where Murray Weiss and William Hoffman's Palm Beach Babylon (LJ 12/92) left off, is a very readable soap opera-ish account (with some adult sexual references). Read it if you want to know what the obscenely rich eat, wear, and do from December to April, but by the fourth chapter you may find that the name- dropping becomes tedious. Recommended for public libraries.ÄKimberly A. Bateman, Broward Community Coll., Pembroke Pines, FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prologuep. ix
Summer/Fall: Preludep. 1
1 Pretendersp. 3
2 The Good Hustlerp. 10
3 Boobs "R" Usp. 19
4 Beluga Caviarp. 29
5 Cash Doesn't Talkp. 40
6 Not Our Class, Dearp. 57
7 Wild Billp. 72
8 A Night at Ta-Boop. 76
9 The Leopard Loungep. 88
10 Born Richp. 97
11 Nescafe Societyp. 110
12 Do You Know Who I Am?p. 121
13 Only in Palm Beachp. 127
14 Penis Pastap. 136
15 Poseursp. 144
16 Naked in the Gardenp. 152
17 $100 Million is for Paupersp. 161
Winter/Spring: Finalep. 175
18 The Trumpsterp. 177
19 Come Play with Mep. 196
20 Roman Orgiesp. 203
21 A Palm Beach Partyp. 217
22 Getting One's Affairs in Orderp. 231
23 A Reckoningp. 241
24 Tiarasp. 250
25 Brunch at Mar-a-Lagop. 260
26 The Taipanp. 266
27 Rod Stewart Strikes Outp. 278
28 Living in a Crazy Townp. 286
29 Incident at the Poinciana Clubp. 295
Acknowledgmentsp. 303
Indexp. 309