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Unreal Estate: Money, Ambition, and the Lust for Land in Los Angeles Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076793265X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767932653
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #278,679 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Gross seems to be picking up where the late, great Dominick Dunne left off in his fascination with the ways that high life and low life come together. Gross gives us the lowdown on an incredible cast of characters...[He] is such a good storyteller." --JOE MEYER, CONNECTICUT POST

"Stripping bare the glamorous West Coast,from Beverly Hills to Bel-Air, Holmby Hills, Beverly Park, etc... Michael's never been a lap dog of his subjects. And he never holds back the dish "--GEORGE CHRISTY, BEVERLY HILLS COURIER

Unreal Estate . . . might be best described as what would happen if Us Weekly and Architectural Digest had a love child that was much smarter than either. The book provides a panorama of what was going on inside some of the most frivolous, gated houses on a hill that have ever existed.” -Alana Semuels, Los Angeles Times

Unreal Estate has it all: movie stars, murders, strippers, pimps, playboys and Mafiosi alongside the founding members of Los Angeles society . . . The book is a great read." -New York Social Diary

"Murderers, lawyers, actors, pornographers, tycoons, and addicts . . . Fantasy and ambition, cheating and careless waste . . . Gross's research is meticulous. Hard to read. Harder to put down." -Los Angeles Magazine

“A juicy, breezily told social history of La La Land . . .” -Kirkus 

“A gripping picture of what made Los Angeles what it is today...In Unreal Estate, [Michael Gross] takes on the Western Frontier like a modern day cowboy — seeking, searching and taking no prisoners.” -Lucy Blodgett, The Huffington Post

"Juicy cocktail-party anecdotes . . . fill Unreal Estate." -Details

"Scandal filled" -Degen Pener, The Hollywood Reporter

"Juicy" -Curbed

"Gross writes with an aficionado’s zeal . . ." -Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Michael Gross is the best-selling author of 740 Park: The Story of the World's Richest Apartment Building, Rogues’ Gallery: The Secret History of the Lust, Lies, Greed and Betrayals That Made the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women and other books. A Contributing Editor of Travel + Leisure he has also written for major publications around the world, including The New York Times, Vanity Fair, New York, Esquire and GQ. He lives in New York City.


More About the Author

Michael Gross is one of America's most provocative non-fiction writers. A contributing editor of Travel + Leisure and columnist for Avenue, he's written for Vanity Fair, Esquire, GQ, Town & Country,the New York Times and New York, and authored twelve books--novels, biographies and social histories--among them, Unreal Estate, a social history of the estate district of Los Angelesow in development as an HBO series, Rogues' Gallery, a history and expose of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the critically-acclaimed best-sellers Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women and 740 Park. He's just finished his next book, House of Outrageous Fortune, the story of 15 Central Park West and its residents. Atria Books will publish it next year.

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Customer Reviews

I'm about halfway through the book, and I'm not sure that I'll finish it.
TopCat19
Having been born in Los Angeles in 1928 and lived there until 1963 I've passed the houses wriiten about in this book hundreds of times.
Beverley Jackson
Getting through this book is like trying to learn about Bigfoot or Shangri la.
jerry gardner

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Paul A. Issa on February 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover
From the Spanish "Land-Grant" families and the scrappy oil-riggers and bean-planters of the 1890s to the excesses of the uber-gated community of the 1980s, Beverly Park, Michael Gross spins a tale - with the combined skills of a Scheherazade and an over-amped Edna Ferber - about the developers and the denizens of four of the richest neighborhoods in the world - Beverly Hills, Bel-Air, Holmby Hills and Beverly Park. Focusing on 16 historic houses, and the owners of each over the years, the book is impossible to put down. Every story ties into the next, and this world of extreme wealth, ruthlessness, and human failings comes to life and gives the reader a deeper understanding of the Southland's unfathomable history. A must-read.
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16 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Beverley Jackson on November 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Having been born in Los Angeles in 1928 and lived there until 1963 I've passed the houses wriiten about in this book hundreds of times. I went to school with the children of some of the people Michael Gross writes about. But until I read Unreal Estate the massive houses never really meant much to me. The were large structures, quite beautiful in some cases, houses where I went to parties or benefits in the gardens. But Michael Gross has made the mansions truly live for me. The backgrounds of successive owners his research produced is absolutely riveting in some cases. Behind those beautiful facades those things really went on! I love the book and for anybody who has curiosity about what has gone on for generations behind those magnificent gates and beautiful perfectly cut hedges and lovely exteriors, this book is a must. I for one read right through the night. It is people who make these mansions live and Michael Gross has brought these people to the reader in goodness and uglines, in beauty and in evil, their lives and loves, their deeds and misdeeds. A book I highly reommend.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was a primer on the history of Beverly Hills, Bel Air and Holmby Hills, and the newest exclusive domain of Beverly Park. A verititable who's who of the founders, planners and famous residents - both past and present - of L.A.'s plushest domains. My only dissapointment was that the book did not include more detailled maps of the communities and more photos of the grand estates, country clubs and business districts where the old money and the nouveau riche frequented and frequent today.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By James D on March 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Simply said, GREAT BOOK!!!! I love all the details given on the estates, the history of the owners, how it all came to be, etc....I have his book 740 Park and have just started that as well. Hope he comes out with more soon!!!!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jamie Gunn on March 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A well written, thoroughly researched, nearly 500 page book on the evolution of LA told through the stories of the neighborhoods and their great houses with hardly any photographs at all? Really? Mr Gross took all that time, energy and money and came to the conclusion that the book didn't require photographs? Nobody is expecting a coffee table book but, I mean, really?
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Format: Hardcover
I'm about halfway through the book, and I'm not sure that I'll finish it. I did read and enjoy his earlier book, 740 Park, but I'm starting to flag on this one. Probably my fault, as he writes well. I did enjoy the very first part of the book, where he gives an overview of the history of the Los Angeles area. As the book progresses, you get short chapters on specific properties and the famous/well-known/notorious families and individuals that lived in them, or built them, or both. Nothing wrong with that, my problem is that for me, they all start to sound the same and blend together. Naturally, each house has it's own story, but overall, there seems to be a depressing overall sameness to the stories, and it gets to be a bit much after awhile. I think that part (or most) of the problem for me is that I have a sincere lack of curiosity about the rich and famous, so reading about the excesses of the people profiled doesn't really interest me that much. It's hard for me to put into words, but somehow I expected the book to be more about actual properties and real estate transactions in the greater Los Angeles area, not just about a handful of mansions and the strange people who lived in them. I guess the best way to express it would be to say that I expected the book to cover a wider range and have a bigger scope. The subtitle reads "Money, Ambition, and the Lust for Land in Los Angeles". A more accurate subtitle would have been: "A Few Mansions and Their Sad Owners".
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By David C. Miller on January 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Maybe I didn't understand what this book was going to be about which is why I think it's really a horrible book. I thought it was actually going to be about the history of some of the great estates of Los Angeles. Instead it's just a jumble of stories about a few people who passed through these houses. There is very little history about the houses themselves and just a few very bad old black and white pictures. I was hoping for pictures and history about the estates themselves. Knowing about the people who built and lived in them is great, but the houses should have been the stars. It's also horribly written. Was there no editor? If you are looking for a cheap copy, check out the local Goodwill. That's where I sent mine.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on January 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book covers 16 great estates in Los Angeles' best neighborhoods. I've often wondered what the reportedly marvelous mansions around Los Angeles looked like, and suspecting that I'm never going to get invited inside any of them, I picked up a copy of 'Unreal Estate.' Though it did contain a few old pictures and lots of salacious background and gossip about early inhabitants, I'm still wondering.

Why would one write a book on this topic without including lots of detailed photos? Answer: Because it's much easier than getting inside these gated communities and estates. Instead, Gross substitutes name-dropping (mostly unrecognizable people from decades ago), tidbits from a California real estate blog, and a useless map.
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