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The Hiltons: The True Story of an American Dynasty Hardcover – Large Print, April 1, 2014


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Taraborrelli is a journalist and celebrity biographer. His family saga of the Hiltons is filled with enticing gossip as well as well-­documented, if sometimes tawdry, facts about various members. The founder of the hotel empire, Conrad Hilton, was certainly an interesting, in some ways admirable, but enigmatic character. Taraborrelli portrays him as a true visionary capable of thinking and dreaming on a large scale while keeping a firm hold upon economic realities. Yet he seems to have been a tortured soul who lacked a personal touch and, consequently, could not win affection or loyalty from business associates or family members. His successors, however, were not particularly interesting, and the author seems to be straining to make them worthy of his attention. Son Nicky, for example, best known as the first husband of Elizabeth Taylor, was a shallow, self-absorbed alcoholic; the current celebrity Hilton, Paris, seems both the perpetrator and the victim of her thirst for public attention. Taraborrelli is a good writer, who, in this case, would have benefited from more compelling subjects. --Jay Freeman --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

Review

A USA Today "New and Noteworthy" Book

"Riveting...Hang out the Do Not Disturb sign for this addictive tale."―People

"...filled with enough strange and wonderful anecdotes, and tales of love, greed, and horrid excess to fill a stack full of Jackie Collins novels."―NY Journal of Books

"A vivid account of the family's rise to fortune."―New York Daily News

"Deliciously dishy"―Elle

"Taraborrelli has written the definitive biography of a family whose glory days may have passed but which simply refuses to recede into the background."―Kirkus --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 928 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; Lrg edition (April 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 145558200X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1455582006
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 2.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (131 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,488,758 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

J. RANDY TARABORRELLI is the author of 18 biographies, 14 of which went on to become New York Times' best sellers, including: "Call Her Miss Ross," "Sinatra - Behind the Legend," "Madonna - An Intimate Biography," "Jackie, Ethel, Joan - Women of Camelot," "Elizabeth,"(a biography of Elizabeth Taylor); "The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe" and "After Camelot - A Personal History of the Kennedy Family 1968 to the Present."

Taraborrelli's best seller, "After Camelot," is presently in production as a miniseries for the ReelzChannel (2016), starring Katie Holmes as Jackie Kennedy Onassis. His previous book about the Kennedys - "Jackie, Ethel, Joan - Women of Camelot" was a highly-rated miniseries for NBC, starring Jill Hennesey as Jackie and Lauren Holly and Ethel. It is available for purchase here on Amazon.

His national best seller, "The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe" is the basis of a miniseries of the same name for Lifetime, starring Susan Sarandon, Kelli Garner, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Emily Watson. It airs on May 30 and 31, 2015.

J. Randy's next two books are: an update of his classic Sinatra biography, "Sinatra - Behind the Legend," which will be published in August 2015; and "Becoming Beyonce - The Untold Story" which is the first-ever in-depth biography of the pop star, publishing in October of 2015.

J. Randy Taraborrelli has also worked as a CBS News analyst and is a popular guest on talk and entertainment programs.

The author holds a black belt in the martial art of American Tang Soo Do and a blue belt in Gracie Jiu Jitsu. He lives in Los Angeles, California.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
The Hiltons: A Family Dynasty opens with Zsa Zsa Gabor's deposition. Her daughter Francesca is contesting Conrad Hilton's will. The issue of whether Francesca is Conrad's daughter is a theme that runs through the book and keeps us wondering until the end how it will be resolved.

The Hiltons in addition to being enormously successful in the hotel business, primarily due to Conrad's vision and energy, were well known personalities who led personal lives that rivaled those of the movie stars to whom several of them were married. In addition to Zsa Zsa, who was briefly married to Conrad, an extensive list of Hollywood personalities like Natalie Wood, Joan Collins and Eddie Fisher make appearances.

The three Hilton sons and their wives are featured. Nicky Hilton's disastrous marriage to Elizabeth Taylor is discussed in detail as is his father's marriage to Zsa Zsa. The fallout from these marriages followed the men for years: Zsa Zsa in a constant battle with Conrad; Nicky feeling guilt for his abusive treatment of Elizabeth.

The lives of these amazing characters keep you turning the pages. The marriage problems of the male members of the family read like a novel, or a soap opera. However, even more interesting is the chronicling of Conrad's experience building a hotel empire. Even the business sections are filled with interesting characters and suspense. If you like stories of big business, you'll enjoy this part of the book.

I recommend this book if you find the Hiltons fascinating, or if your interest is in how a major corporation was born.

I reviewed this book for Net Galley.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By JYK on April 8, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Well-researched and factual, Mr. Taraborrelli gives us the inside look at this famous family. Conrad Hilton, the family patriarch, was driven and successful, but his forceful personality cast a big shadow over his children, especially Nicky, the oldest. There's Barron, the ultimate company man, who forged a successful path. Eric who was reared by Conrad's first wife and managed to grow up normally away from his father. And Francesca, Conrad's and Zsa Zsa Gabor's daughter, who unsuccessfully fought for love and recognition from her father.

The most interesting chapter for me was the story behind the sale of Hilton International to TWA. Despite Nicky being the head of Hilton International, Conrad and Barron went behind his back to strike a deal with TWA. Nicky learned too late and argued against it to no avail. It turned out that Nicky, the prodigal son who was seen as unreliable, was right in this case as the deal became one of the biggest mistakes in Conrad's long career. A reminder that arrogance and hubris always bring us down.

The book does justice to their flawed and somewhat tragic stories. And thankfully the mention of Paris Hilton is kept to a minimum.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Jenna Frye on April 11, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I didn't know much of what I was getting into before I started reading this book. I often enjoy books centered around powerful families such as the Kennedy's, so I thought I would give this one a go. Luckily for me, it was not centered on Paris Hilton, but predominantly the members of her family that have allowed her such a privileged lifestyle.

Conrad Hilton, Paris's great grandfather, came from a family ethic where you were expected to work hard to earn your own path through life, without handouts or free rides of any kind. He believed in keeping the family name clean and even though he knew that he wasn't the father of one of his children, he still called her one of his own and gave her his last name.

Naturally, I have always assumed that the Hilton's lived off of the wealth of their family's fortune, but was surprised to learn that this was not Conrad's vision for his family and had there not been a loop hole in his will (that allowed his son, Barron Hilton, to contest against and win), our ear's may have been spared the term "that's hot" for so many years.

It was also quite interesting to learn that Conrad thought that women who spent a majority of their time hung up on doing things to make themselves look beautiful were frivolous and foolish. He couldn't even endure watching a woman apply fingernail polish in his presence. So, of course, he wasn't thinking very clearly when he married Zsa Zsa Gabor in the 40's. As a result, they had two separate bedrooms. I found it interesting how the author compared Zsa Zsa to Paris toward the end of the book, because the entire time that I was reading about Zsa Zsa, I couldn't help but notice their uncanny similarities as well.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Brushless in Pa! on April 21, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Think you know the Hilton story? This is a must read. Full of history, glamour, revelations and excitement, you'll feel like you're a part of old world Hollywood and the making of a dynasty. I could not put this book down.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By R. C Sheehy on June 30, 2014
Format: Hardcover
If you are looking for some type of tawdry, scandalous story this is not the book for you. Having read the lame book about Johnson & Johnson "Crazy Rich" earlier this year I had very low expectations going into reading this book. However Mr. Taraborrelli has done a great service by telling us the story of the Hilton family, warts and all, but doing so in a respectful tone which focuses primarily on the patriarch and cares little for tabloid fodder. It's obvious he sees the family as people of great respect and if anything he errs on the side of being forgiving but in no respect is he too forgiving. His portrayals of Nicky Hilton's rough life and of Conrad Hilton's somewhat questionable relationship with his daughter are eye opening but not salacious. Most importantly he keeps his eye on the families business and demonstrates what makes them and their company so successful. I would have been interested in hearing more about the Hilton family foundation but my quarrels with the book are along the lines of very good but not quite great.

This is a book well worth your time!
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