Among the Mansions of Eden is a fascinating and dishy exploration of Beverly Hills -- a rarefied community that has become a part of our country's mythos, a city renowned for its ostentatious displays of wealth. It takes you behind the gates of the rich and famous for an insider's view of the elite's rapturous and tragic attempts to realize the American Dream.
From Rodeo Drive to Beverly Hills High School, Among the Mansions of Eden tells the city's story by capturing the individuals who are emblematic of various factions of Beverly Hills society: The cast of unforgettable characters includes the late Milton Berle, who spent his last days surrounded by aging cronies in the cavernous ballroom of the Friars Club, haunted by the ghosts of the past; Fred Hayman, a former banquet manager who opened a boutique called Giorgio and transformed Rodeo Drive from a provincial retail district to a phantasmagoric midway that caters to the world's most affluent shoppers; Gavin de Becker, a poor kid from a broken home who became the security broker to the stars; Mark Hughes, the health-supplement wunderkind who parlayed a trunkful of vitamin pills into a billion-dollar empire known as Herbalife and planned to build his own San Simeon on the last undeveloped mountaintop in Beverly Hills; Jim Forester, a teenager with an overriding passion for a righteous buzz that led him on a Dante-esque journey through the city's underworld of pushers, delinquents, scam artists, and sleazoids; and Norm Zadeh, who used the millions he made as a hedge-fund manager to start a girlie magazine, fill a Beverly Hills mansion with curvaceous nymphets, and emulate the life of Hugh Hefner.
You'll also meet a fascinating array of con artists, hucksters, and libido-crazed pleasure seekers and gun fetishists who are willing to resort to whatever means necessary to steal a piece of the Beverly Hills Dream. Among the Mansions of Eden weaves their individual stories into a spellbinding tale of wealth, fame, and the lust for land, power, and social status in the most opulent city in America.
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David Weddle is the author of "If They Move ... Kill 'Em!," the critically acclaimed biography of Sam Peckinpah, and has written for Rolling Stone, Daily Variety, and the Los Angeles Times. He lives in Malibu, California.From Publishers Weekly:
While the lifestyles of the rich and famous are perennially entertaining, it's the rare writer who can make sense-and humor-of their utter excesses. When journalist Weddle set out to investigate the history and culture of the inhabitants of the 90210 zip code, he started and ended with the most unlikely players: their real estate agents. It's these hustlers-"snake oil salesmen and fever-eyed evangelists rolled into one"-who've crafted this particular version of the American dream. Weddle starts his story back when Beverly Hills was an arid, craggy wilderness too far from anywhere to interest anyone, and follows its makeover into some of the world's most desirable real estate. He covers the over-the-top exploits of the movie star castle-builders, but also the weirdly fascinating tales of the lesser-known players: Bijan and his million-dollar wardrobes, Prince Romanoff and his restaurant and assorted Persian ex-potentates recreating their fortunes. True, all is not golden in paradise. At the famed Beverly Hills High School, kids are overdosing on drugs. Racial profiling is rampant. A megamillion-dollar security industry has developed to deal with stalking. But those are mere snags in an ingenue's silk stockings. Even the big nightmare (recession) doesn't bother these folk. As Weddle's real estate brokers smugly conclude, "money doesn't diminish in a recession, it just changes hands." 16 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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