Normandie, the Tragic Story of the Most Majestic Liner is a well-researched historical novel. Through focusing on the design, construction and art of the French Line’s glorious 1935 flagship, Silvin brings readers through a tale of the enchanting and romantic history of Twentieth Century, North Atlantic luxury travel. The illustrated narrative is punctuated by glamorous accounts of the famous passengers who travelled on Normandie during her four-year life.
While fictional, the celebrities’ conversations are soundly based on what was happening in these legendary people’s lives at the time of their documented “crossings”. Readers will feel as if they are aboard the beguiling ship with artistic, social and political icons from both sides of the Atlantic.
Finally, shrouded with details of the major international events that led up to the Second World War, Silvin chronicles the real story of Normandie’s tragic end. The horrid visual of what was to be America’s only large troop carrier lying on her side in New York City only two months after Pearl Harbor, gave way to the most elaborate yet predictably futile salvage job in naval history.
Villa Mizner, The House That Changed Palm Beach is about a grand town-palace on Worth Avenue, Palm Beach, Florida — one of the world’s most beautiful and up-scale streets.
The book begins with the famous, charismatic architect Addison Mizner’s eight-year tenure (1924-1933) in the home of his dreams and includes well-researched, fictionalized conversations with Mizner’s famous clients of the 1920s. This period comes to life as it explores the grand palaces Mizner designed for America’s most extravagant elite.
Together with his friend and patron, Paris Singer, heir to the Singer sowing machine fortune, these two inseparable friends changed the nature of Palm Beach from a stogy Edwardian style established by Henry Flagler to a modern, socially inclusive, extroverted society. Daily cocktail parties were held inside the villa while Irving Berlin played the piano and Isadora Duncan danced the night away.
Sadly, many of the magnificent homes Mizner designed during the “roaring twenties” were destroyed forty years later. The book contains dozens of pictures of the properties in an effort to preserve their memory.
Readers will also discover details about Mizner’s clients’ lives — all scions of American industry and high society; families such as Phipps, Stotesbury, Cosden, Vanderbilt, du Pont, Wanamaker, Duke, Shearson, Chase and Warburton. They will learn of the ill-timed, failed attempt to create the model city of Boca Raton and the reasons why the brilliant, industrialist architect died intestate, bankrupt and without commissions.
The book then chronicles the house’s subsequent owners beginning with Rose and Mortimer Sachs whose tenure spanned four and a half decades (1939-1985). This influential couple built and operated a huge real estate empire in Via Mizner and along Worth and Peruvian Avenues.
Readers will then learn about the villa’s transition period when it was owned by Ian Kean and, later, Robert and Gay Kanuth (1985 – 2003).
The in-town mansion finally ends up in the hands of Dee and Nick Adams, descendants of America’s second President, John Adams. This vibrant young couple have brilliantly restored and furnished the house, making it look like Mizner just stepped out to dinner. The Adamses have resumed the pattern of having a modern, direct and positive impact on Palm Beach’s way of life.
The owners of Villa Mizner have all cooperated with the author to share personal stories (and pictures) of their tenures in the villa, including tales about what they all believe is evidence of Mizner’s pet monkey’s ghost who happily still lives in the villa.
The book brings this villa to life, as the story becomes an amusing and informative history of Palm Beach, Florida.
Imagine being a twice divorced, middle-aged woman of average looks, shunned by relatives only to discover the most eligible bachelor in the world cannot live without you. Now imagine being that handsome, charming, shy bachelor who was taught nothing but tradition and duty in order to become a perfect King-Emperor and rule over one third of the world.
But, both of these extraordinary people had the same secret dream: To breakaway from their apparent destiny with a soul mate regardless of the cost and public outrage.
So it was that, in 1936, Britain’s King Edward VIII abdicated his throne to marry Wallis Simpson – “the woman I love” – against the violent objection of the Royal Family, the Cabinet, the dominions and the Church of England. For the following thirty-six years the iconic couple became King and Queen of international high society as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
This new, private account of their lives refutes history’s traditional, often scurrilous portrayal of the mysterious duo and reveals here-to-fore unknown details of their lives, illnesses and very different deaths.
Noblesse Oblige is Silvin’s fictionalized, personal description of the Duchess’ last valiant battle to protect her young protégée while he was running a famous hospital in Paris, France. The detailed memoir sits atop an easily absorbed history of both protagonists as the author rejects historians’ claim that the Duchess was a ruthless, conniving and superficial woman. Instead he validates Time Magazine‘s decision to honor her as the first Woman of the Year, who, it has been said, “out-Hollywooded Hollywood.”
Walking the rainbow is René’s fascinating and inspiring memoir about personally witnessing the origins and devastation of the AIDS pandemic.
Throughout the 1970s Richard René Silvin lead an enviable life of power and world travel because of his career in international hospital administration.
During his childhood and early adult life, René concealed his homosexuality and married, in a futile attempt to conform. René and his wife eventually separated, which was at a time when René’s travels took him to the gay havens of New York, Los Angeles and Paris.
He discovered hints of what would become the AIDS pandemic. His story chronicles the frightening and grisly developments as thousands of young Americans experience painful and dehumanizing deaths.
Walking the Rainbow is a story of international medical discoveries and personal experiences in the years leading up to isolating HIV, including the deaths of René’s two long term partners. He reveals details of the epic negligence of world leaders who lost the opportunity to radically curb the pandemic through education.
In this beautifully illustrated, second edition of Walking the Rainbow, readers will experience first-hand the adage: All that glitters is not gold.
Richard René Silvin was born into a wealthy Franco-American family. They lived on Long Island and in the South of France. René’s father led a hedonistic life focused on travel and hunting.
For most of his first 6 years, René was placed in the care of a loving nanny on Long Island and lived in her modest home. In 1955, he was taken to Cannes, France, to live with a French governess until he could go to a Swiss boarding school the following year.
1955 – 1958
René’s father decides his sons should receive a formal European education by placing them in Swiss boarding schools. This frees up René’s father to travel with the infamous Ann Woodward, who was cleared of murdering her socialite husband in New York. René is too young to attend a reputable school, is separated from his brother, and is dropped off at La Clairière. It is a sinister looking school for very young children in picturesque Villars, Switzerland. René’s parents have not vetted the 30-student school, which turns out to be rife with cruelty, including physical and sexual abuse.
René endures his Oliver Twist-like existence. In his third year at the school, the police are called to investigate why a well-meaning maid stabs the headmaster’s wife. Act I ends with René joining his older brother, John Jacques, at Le Rosey, known as “the school for princes and kings.”