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Fool's Paradise: Players, Poseurs, and the Culture of Excess in South Beach Hardcover – January 27, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; First Edition edition (January 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307346277
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307346278
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #379,201 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As two of South Beach's famous ladies (the Hotel Fountainbleu and Madonna, respectively) reinvent themselves yet again, this sour-sweet city history exposes scandal, intrigue, sex and drugs in the sun-drenched social spot. Gaines (Philistines at the Hedgerow) doesn't let a garish outfit or randy dialogue escape: "they were an odd sight, Barbara Capitman in her frowsy clothes, Leonard Horowitz in his hand-me-downs; Barbara buttonholing people on the street to tell them about Art Deco preservations, Leonard spouting sexual come-ons to passing gay men like he had Tourette's syndrome." The author rounds up the usual suspects: the hotelier, the mobster, the model, the other model, the night club owner, Frank Sinatra (in his greatest real-life hoodlum roles), and a chorus line of backstabbers, petty criminals and reformed drug addicts, all attracted by the wealth and possibility of South Beach. Gaines is more gossipy tour guide than investigative journalist, and readers will rightly suspect that most of the characters would revel in his nastier descriptions. Nevertheless, this book is perfect reading for a lazy afternoon in the double-decker cabana.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

Praise for Fool's Paradise
“Exposes scandal, intrigue, sex and drugs in the sun-drenched social spot… perfect reading for a lazy afternoon in the double-decker cabana.”
Publishers Weekly

“Gaines is at ease with all aspects of his subject…[he] also loves his characters, no matter how flawed they may be… His colorful snapshot of the weirdness that is Miami Beach will forever color your view of the Sunshine State. Original, gossipy and flat-out fun–will either have you booking the next flight or scare you off the place altogether.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Gaines inspects decadence at its zenith through the stories of some of the city's most famous and notorious-characters."
L.A. Confidential
 
"Part Vegas flash and part old-school-Hollywood, Gaines shows us the 'manic desperation and reckless wealth' of Miami Beach.”
Smoke Magazine

“The book will make a hot beach read, and its pretty pastel cover will punch up everyone's new beach ensemble.”
Miami Herald

"You don't read this book — you inhale it. Considering the staggering cocaine consumption of South Beach, maybe 'snort' is a better word choice.Whatever word we use, Fool's Paradise: Players, Poseurs, and the Culture of Excess in South Beach is an irresistible book that wraps up hilarious and tragic stories and serves them in this elegant souffle."
St. Petersburg Times



Praise for Philistines at the Hedgerow

"Breezy, irreverent, amusing . . . replete with scandals, scurrilous characters, assorted bacchanalia, and all manner of wretched excess."
—Laura Landro, Wall Street Journal

"Hugely entertaining . . . With wit and zest Gaines tells the story of the embattled Hamptons through a series of deft profiles."
—Stephen Birmingham, Washington Times

"A narrative of surprising unity and velocity. Such a cast of eccentrics hasn’t been seen since Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil."
—Jay McInerney, The New Yorker

"Richly entertaining."
People

"A fabulous cast of real-life characters, both high and low . . . more fun than most fiction."
Publishers Weekly

"A satisfying comedy of manners about snobbishness and land lust among America’s overachievers. . . . Gaines knows how to tell a story, and he knows how to dish."
—Carl Swanson, Salon

More About the Author

Steven Gaines is the best-selling author of twelve books, including Philistines at the Hedgerow: Passion and Property in the Hamptons; The Sky's the Limit: Passion and Property in Manhattan; The Love You Make: An Insider's Story of the Beatles; and Marjoe, the biography of evangelist Marjoe Gortner.

His journalism has appeared in Vanity Fair, the New York Observer, the New York Times, Los Angeles, and Worth, and he is presently a contributing editor at New York magazine. His frequent television appearances include "60 Minutes"; "The Today Show"; "CBS Morning News"; and "Good Morning America."

Mr. Gaines is a co-founder and past vice-chairman of the Hamptons International Film Festival.

He lives in a small hamlet on the East End of Long Island.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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See all 19 customer reviews
I especially enjoyed Chapter Eleven, " The Mayor of South Beach."
Sam Frontera
And finally I have a book that is just all-too-perfect to give to friends who have visited or plan to visit.
C. E. Selby
I am not an avid reader, but I thoroughly enjoyed this read and was entertained from start to finish.
ScottN

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Sam Frontera on March 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Fool's Paradise is a well written book about the hidden history of Miami Beach. I especially enjoyed Chapter Eleven, " The Mayor of South Beach." After finishing Steven Gaine's manuscript, where he mentions Mayor Alex Daoud and his unexpurgated book "Sins of South Beach", The True Story of Violence, Corruption, Murder and the Making of Miami Beach. I purchased the Mayor's story. All I can say is "WOW". The author a three time Miami Beach City Commissioner and former three time Mayor uses real names, real crimes, and real people. I'm surprised that he was able to do that. It is a very revealing, interesting and shocking read. I highly recommend both books, they enhance each other.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By C. E. Selby on March 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I own property and live in the historic Art Deco District in South Beach. And finally I have a book that is just all-too-perfect to give to friends who have visited or plan to visit. Lenny Bruce once said, "Miami Beach is where neon goes to die" (quoted by Steven Gaines at the beginning of chapter three). Maybe it does, but this books goes a long way in making the reader aware that the neon is alive and well here in South Beach. What I like in a book is a grand beginning. Nothing could beat the opening chapter of this page-turner, a re-telling of a thirteen-year-old's bat mitzvah (she is really not Jewish!) that could only happen here. And then, having hooked the reader, the author in wonderful prose gives us a ride through the history of this place which a century ago was uninhabited by humans. The reader will meet the most amazing cast of people from the very rich who built hotels such as the Fontainebleau to the amazing woman who had the vision to fight to make our art deco an historic national treasure. I once taught the son of the mayor the reader will meet, a man with an enormous appetite for life. In fact the entire cast in this book has that enormous appetite. Not until I read the book did I realize this: we have no cemeteries! None! This is not just a book for those who live here or come here for the sun, the fun (meaning booze, drugs and sex). Oh, no, this is a book for everyone. Wrap yourself in a mink stole, turn on the neon, and enjoy some wonderfully entertaining and enlightening pages of life as it was and as it is in the place where neon does not come to die. And for those without the mink, then do it naked, just to get the feel of the place where nightclubs stay open until the sun comes up.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
History of how Miami Beach has come and gone and come again as the Party Mecca of the rich and famous and not so rich and not so famous. Fun reading especially if you were at the Beach and saw the degradation of South Beach in the 70s & 80s and how it changed and became the "it place" to be and be seen.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you enjoy reading about Florida and its development, this book is for you. It captures the glory, glamour and uniqueness of southern Florida through the eyes of its developers and quirky residents.
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By S. Smith on October 9, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found "Fool's Paradise" a most interesting book that I could get lost in. The descriptions and historical accounts of life in one little corner--Miami Beach--are vivid and compelling. Anyone to whom the city is unfamiliar territory and who likes to loose themselves in a book for awhile should read it.
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By ScottN on June 23, 2013
Format: Paperback
I read this book while I recently visited South Beach on vacation for the first time. I enjoyed the historical perspective and real life description depicted by the author through the colorful characters of Miami Beach. I am not an avid reader, but I thoroughly enjoyed this read and was entertained from start to finish.
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When you live some place like New York, there's a high chance you've never visited Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building and you won't be seen dead or alive at the Times Square. I lived in Miami Beach for many years, and never set foot in any of the grand hotels and other places well covered in this book, much less even cared about their history. So now, long after moving out across the country, I enjoy playing a tourist once in awhile, taking a stroll on Lincoln Road, actually buying stuff for myself at those touristy t-shirt stores, and all that. The book is a welcome eye opener, especially for someone who subconsciously felt and breathed everything without actually understanding the story behind it, so for me this is like watching a TV for 20 years, junking it, and then finding a manual that describes all the features I've never known about, and wish I did back in time. So it's probably a great read for an out of towner, but for someone local it's a must, it'll make you value what you have now and give you a plenty of reasons to hold on and enjoy everyday things that otherwise you would've passed by without noticing. Like that Eden Roc? What Eden Roc? Now you know.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth F. Treacy on March 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book after having devoured Laurence Leamer's "Madness Under the Royal Palms" about Palm Beach, FLA. I also loved Gaines' previous book about the Hamptons. Unfortunately, "Fool's Paradise" is a snoozer. The first half of the book deals almost exclusively with real estate and development. Hardly the "juicy, gossipy read" that the reviews stated aside from a tidbit here and there about someone's poor etiquette or behavior. I find myself continually falling asleep while trying to get into this book. Also, for so much of the book being centered around the real estate- why are there hardly any pictures of the real estate? I would have like to have seen photos of the Eden Roc and the Fontainebleau and the Art Deco buildings of South Beach in their heyday considering 4 to 5 chapters are about them. But, no, just a random scattering of weird pictures of people mentioned occassionally. This book claims to be about the "players, poseurs, and the culture" but it's really seems to be more regurgitated stories about the "rise and fall of Miami real estate." I wouldn't recommend it unless perhaps you lived there at some point or plan on it.
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