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64 of 69 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I am up to page 33 of this book and already I have found two factual mistakes.
1. P 20 Serge Diaghilev is described as a " lithe ballet star", in fact he was a portly impressario.
He is also described as frequenting Coco Chanel's table at the Ritz. She is described as living there since the early 1930s. Diaghilev died in 1929!
2. P33 Sacha Guitry is described as a"young playwright" attending Parisian literary salons in 1897, which would make him 12 years old, young indeed.
Such errors seriously put the book's credibility in question
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47 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This is the most poorly written and superficial "history" book that I have ever read. It is so full of factual errors that it is almost impossible to absorb them, and the author makes statements throughout the book which have no truth whatsoever. They are far too numerous to mention, but a few of them include her statement that the American Assimilated Colonel Fred Wardenburg was called away from a hotel in Washington late one evening in 1944 and was at the Ritz Hotel in Paris the following morning. If his aircraft had flown by the fastest possible route, stopping only at Gander or Goose Bay, and then at Shannon or Prestwick, he would not have arrived in Paris until the following night.
This may seem trivial, but it is an example of the author's complete disinterest in facts. Another is her claim that Ernest Hemingway committed suicide ay his home in Key West. He did not. It was at his home in Ketchum, Idaho..
The author makes statements as though they were facts, when there is not a shred of truth to them. It is beyond pitiful, and a disgrace to literature.
It is sad that anyone would publish such a book., The publisher's proof reader left an unnecessary "t" after the word "only" on page 16. Very sloppy this. I wish I had my money back..
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 13, 2013
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
An account of Paris's Ritz Hotel from the Dreyfus Affair to the 1968 student riots and beyond. For most of this time, the Ritz was the political and artistic center of Paris. Its tenants included Coco Chanel and assorted multimillionaires. Hemingway drank at the bar. Cocteau and Proust frequented the bar and the dining room. During the Occupation, Hermann Goering took over an entire floor, and small cells of the French Resistance were run by hotel staff, including the legendary Ritz bartender (inventor of some of the most popular cocktails of the period), Frank Meier. The Ritz was, in its heyday, much more than a mere hotel.

Tilar Mazzeo has found a novel lens on modern European history. Kudos to her. The book's narrative moves like gangbusters. However, the account is rather superficial. There are strong threads running through French politics from Dreyfus through the 1968 student riots in Paris, and Mazzeo doesn't examine these in any detail. She gives us instead a parade of celebrities, eccentrics, and the very interesting who flit by. We don't get to really know any of them. This wouldn't be so bad if the treatment of themes had been deeper. Mazzeo is welcome to her approach, but it doesn't lead to a meaningful history. If you want to know something of the French Resistance and the collaborationists, see Ophul's The Sorrow and the Pity instead.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
An epic human drama that sweeps across the pages of history with might, misfortune and triumph, this is the story of "The Hotel on Place Vendome". The author Tilar J. Mazzio who wrote the endlessly fascinating, "The Secret of Chanel No.5" has created in this book about The Ritz Hotel in Paris a real page turner of a read. Sharply detailed, witty, brave, funny and tragic, it is a brilliant accomplishment.

Everyone goes to the Ritz..

Like in the great World War II film, "Casablanca" everybody who is anybody in this true story goes to The Ritz. What happened in real life between the covers of this book surpasses anything of reel life that every came out of Hollywood in the golden age. Over the course of the story from the opening of the grand hotel to the end of the war a parade of unforgettable characters from Marcel Proust to Marlene Dietrich and everyone in between shows up to play out the most extraordinary drama. The hotel staff, the permanent guests, the horizontal collaborators, the resistors, the conquerors, the liberators, the beautiful and the dammed, they are all here in these dazzling unforgettable pages.

The book opens with a cast of characters much like an old classic film from the thirties. Each is presented in a small capsule of words. Just enough is revealed to make the reader hungry for the story to begin. And begin it does with a cinematic sweep.

"That was the day the Germans marched into Paris... I remember every detail, the Germans wore grey, you wore blue."

With the arrival of the German Army and under Hitler's order that "Paris remain happy and gay or else" the hotel stays open. The fear was that if they did not keep it going during the occupation it might be lost forever to its owners, the Ritz family. And in keeping it running over the course of the next five horrific years the hotel becomes a hub of French resistance, glittering parties, espionage, and horrific moments.

When Claire Booth Luce unbelieving that Paris was about to fall to the Nazis asked the hotel manager Claude Auzzelo: "How do you know the Germans are coming," She said,

"Because Madame, they have reservations."

The last night of freedom for the city is a stunning moment among many great moments in the book. Hemmingway, Arletty, Chanel, Picasso, operation Valkyrie, The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Hermann Göring and The Desert Rat, Field Marshall Erwin Rommel leap to vivid life on the page in one incredible story layered one upon the other.

I was amazed at the rich detail I found in this book. Tilar Mazzio in her research and interviews has unearthed a treasure of information about the hotel and its famed guests and fascinating employees. Research is not enough to make a great book. There has to be a great writer to tie the hundreds of story threads together and present them in a captivating way. Mazzio does this with great style, drama and timing. I just could not put the book down. Mazzio writes with such visual splendor and sweep that throughout my reading of it I kept thinking get this book to HBO. This is a mini-series crying out to be made.

"The Hotel on the Place Vendome" captures a time in history when the fate of Europe and the world itself hung in the balance between freedom and fascism. The seeds of modern Europe were planted in the Hotel Ritz and even though we know the outcome of World War II in fact, I was lost in the story and on the edge of my seat the entire time.

There comes the moment in the book when Major General Dietrich von Choltitz is sent the message from Hitler, "Is Paris Burning?" I was chilled me to the bone at those words. What saved Paris? The answer is to be found in the Rue Cambon Bar at the Hotel Ritz and in this amazing and exciting book.

"We'll always have Paris."
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Poorly written, laden with inaccuracies. Never should have been published without fact checking. Where did author get her information? Sources in notes often taken out of context.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 7, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
So many errors, inaccuracies and speculation make this book an exercise in gossipy historical novel writing but most certainly not a history book. Dates and facts are just dead wrong (an easy but by no means only example is Hemingway's death in Key West when most people --other than the author and her editor -- known that is was in Idaho).
The chapter on my father's actions during the Liberation of Paris is full of mistakes and bears no connection whatsoever to the Ritz, except, as the author notes on the basis of nothing, that my father's family "MUST" have known people who resided in or passed through the Ritz!
Not just disappointing but unacceptable.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 2014
Format: Hardcover
This book is alternately entertaining- and infuriating. First and foremost, someone should have fact checked the manuscript. there is a recurring mention of Serge (sp) Diaghilev and a confusion with him and with Serge Lifar. Alas, poor Sergei Diaghilev died in Venice in 1929, quite a while before the events of this book- yet he shows up, undead and slimmed down ( he was a rather portly figure) at several occasions in the story. This is such a simple fact to clarify, I find it amazing that neither the author or editors caught this glaring mistake.
When the book stays on target concerning the living people who frequented the Hotel it is often rather fun. (The portrait of Hemingway is particularly intriguing. There are numerous lapses of writing quality and some more bad proofreading issues, but overall the information is interesting. I do take issue with the erratic nature of the timelines and sequencing of events, and the apparent ADHD aspects of the author's brain impulses. A good editor and a smart fact checker could have made this book much better.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
THE HOTEL ON PLACE VENDOME is a tabloid-style history of Paris' legendary Hotel Ritz. The book's voyeuristic focus is on the affairs and intrigues of the rich and famous people (e.g., Marcel Proust, Hermann Goring, Coco Chanel, Ernest Hemingway) who were residents, employees, or frequent visitors from the time of the hotel's opening in 1898 to the present day.

Although the book purports to tell how France (and the post-WWII world at large) were changed by the interactions of powerful people at the Hotel Ritz during the occupation of Paris, the book is not a serious history. Most of the time it reads like a newspaper society page, with lots of detail about individuals' sexual proclivities and amorous intentions toward one another, and about the social pecking order. Historical background is added in whenever it seems remotely relevant to what a particular person might have been reading about or doing at the time--so that everything from the Dreyfus Affair to Hemingway's mistreatment of his wife Martha Gellhorn to the photographing of the Allies' landing at Omaha Beach is included.

At the book's beginning, there is an indispensable "Cast of Characters" that sets out capsule biographies. These biographies are illustrative of the book's overall tone. For example, Arletty is described as "Sultry French film star and national celebrity, she passed the war in luxury at the Hotel Ritz with her German lover . . . . Her `horizontal collaboration' earned her the dangerous hatred of many in occupied Paris and a terrible retribution." The book's chapter titles also reflect a capricious approach to the material. For example, Chapter 8, "The American Wife and the Swiss Director," or Chapter 12, "Those Dame Reporters: August 26, 1944".

The book is well-written, and no doubt it is entertaining if you're interested in the personal stories of the individuals discussed. The book is copiously footnoted, and includes a Bibliography--and it's clear that the author has put a lot of time in on research. However, I was expecting a more substantial book--either a history of the Hotel Ritz itself, or an examination of upper-crust life during the Paris occupation--and the book fails to deliver anything beyond human interest stories. I rate THE HOTEL ON PLACE VENDOME at 2 stars ("I don't like it" on the official Amazon scale).
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I FOUND THIS BOOK INITIALLY TEDIOUS BUT FELT IT IMPROVED AND BECAME A VERY READABLE HISTORY OF THE RITZ AND THE CHARACTERS WHO LIVED, WORKED AND FREQUENTED THE HOTEL DURING THE WAR YEARS. HEMINGWAY,POSSIBLY THE MOST FAMOUS AMERICAN CONNECTED TO THE RITZ IS THE SUBJECT OF SEVERAL CHAPTERS WHICH I FOUND QUITE ENJOYABLE. HOWEVER, ON PAGE 231 THE AUTHOR STATES THAT HEMINGWAY "SHOT HIMSELF TO DEATH IN KEY WEST IN 1961...." ANYONE WHO KNOWS ANYTHING ABOUT HEMINGWAY KNOWS THIS HAPPENED IN IDAHO. MAZZEO LISTS CARLOS BAKER'S EXELLENT BIOGRAPHY OF HEMINGWAY IN HER BIBLIOGRAPHY SO SHE EITHER DIDN'T GET TO THE END TO LEARN THE RELEVANT DETAILS OF HEMINGWAY'S DEATH OR HER EDITORS WERE ASLEEP AT THE SWITCH. FOR A COLLEGE PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH NOT TO KNOW THIS IS APPALLING AND BRINGS INTO QUESTION THE VERACITY OF EVERYTHING ELSE SHE DETAILS ON HER BOOK. QUITE DISAPPOINTING.!!! I HOPE FUTURE EDITIONS, IF THERE ARE ANY, WILL CORRECT THIS EGREGIOUS ERROR.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Fortunately for me, I picked up a copy in my local library and didn't spend a cent. On the first few pages I was told that Diaghilev was "lithe" and a "ballet star." No, he was a rather substantial physical specimen and no dancer, rather an impresario, a producer, a lover of dancers. Geez, I thought, this is sloppy writing. As I read on, other little glib mistakes began to eat away at my confidence in this writer. There's no excuse for it, and I wonder what Colby College and all the foundations who support this writer's work would think if they actually read what she writes. Please, just because Paris is the topic, is no excuse. We need great texts on Paris during the occupation, well researched, not thrown together for the glamor of it.
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