Buy It, Borrow It or Bag It: The Hiltons- The True Story of an American Dynasty by J. Randy Taraborelli

hiltons     I welcome the opportunity to eat some humble pie every now and again and after reviewing one of Taraborelli’s previous works, (and receiving a surprise comment from him!) it opened the door for a brief e-mail exchange in which he was sweet enough to answer some questions I had about the “unauthorized biography” process, alleviated my fears of reading something that the living subjects had no control over.

I learned a lot and I am happy to offer Mr. Taraborelli a very public apology and to tell my readership that this guy is an amazing and generous person who I grossly misjudged based on what I “thought” his work was. With my concerns abated, I could not wait to get started on The Hiltons, a family I know very very little about other than they have something to do with the hotel chain, some of them are called “Barron” but they aren’t nobility and of course Paris Hilton is one of them.

Boy was I surprised! This impressive volume chronicles the rise and rise of Conrad Hilton, a self-made man who built one of the most successful Hotel chains in the world, was a devout Catholic and who possessed a work ethic that is to be admired and emulated. He insisted that his children learn the ropes for themselves and not count on his largesse to be their safety net. He had three sons with his first wife and (for all intents and purposes) a daughter with Zsa Zsa Gabor. (I really hoped in this book I would figure out exactly WHAT Zsa Zsa is famous for, but I didn’t.) Of course the book also chronicles the family squabbles that, take away millions of dollars and they look like any other family fight and offers a peek into the next generation including Paris who, oddly enough, is wrath $100 million based on her own initiatives and not her family’s backing. (I have to admit, I was kind of impressed by that)

Sometimes I think that those who have lots of money lose perspective and forget what it is like to have nothing. They exist on the idea that being famous for having a famous last name is enough. I am pleased to say that the Hilton’s are not that way. While they have been raised comfortably (since Connie made his fortune) but when they were old enough, they were expected to start at the bottom and work their way up. It was a really cool book and as always Taraborelli’s research is top notch. Don’t be afraid by the size of the book, the chapters are easy to conquer, it’s not tedious. Trust me. If I’m willing to admit I was wrong…be willing to give it a try this summer.

Borrow or Buy!

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