On the Weird Allure of
Les Standiford Talks to Mitchell Kaplan on The Literary Life
This week on The Literary Life with Mitchell Kaplan, Les Standiford, author of Palm Beach, Mar-a-Lago, and the Rise of America’s Xanadu, talks about the full and colorful history of Mar-a-Lago, the American resort town that redefined class, wealth, and celebrity, and how this present-day Xanadu has captivated our current President.
From the episode:
Mitchell Kaplan: Given its history, it makes sense that a president would be living in Mar-a-Lago.
Les Standiford: I didn’t want to be a political book. … I am a storyteller, and I wanted to tell the story of this particular and important place that is close to me, which is very interesting and intriguing. I hope it’s intriguing for other people.
Say what you will about the timing. I saw those headlines … about Trump making Mar-a-Lago his primary residence. By this point in my association with all the materials and my knowledge about Donald Trump and its history with the home, I wasn’t surprised to hear that. I think [Mar-a-Lago] is strangely enough one of those possessions of his that he actually has a real affinity for. I know there are practical reasons why he wants to become a Florida resident—the tax situation and so forth—but I believe that he has been taken by the place in a way that he never expected to be.
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, and Meet you in Hell: Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, and the Bitter Partnership that Transformed America, among many other works of fiction and nonfiction. He lives with his wife, Kimberly, in Florida.