Richard René Silvin is a Palm Beach Historian, an expert on the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Addison Mizner, Mar-a-Lago, and the SS Normandie.
I view my role of author and lecturer to be that of a raconteur of intriguing and authentic stories based on major historic events. My goal and passion is to inform and entertain a sophisticated audience interested in famous people, style and elegance on unusual subjects, with books and presentations.
My earlier works were memoirs which covered a broad array of topics. These range from my exposure to Swiss boarding schools during the 1950’s and 1960’s, to a history of the American domination of the international hospital industry during the early days of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980’s. Finally I expose an intimate, personal description of the then-widowed Duchess of Windsor’s final, lonely years in the 1970’s when she was secluded in her Paris home.
My later works are about stylish and chic people and objects. These include the magnificent mansions designed by the flamboyant, society architect Addison Mizner during the 1920’s with details about the glorious homes’ eminent owners.
In my latest book, I explore the history of the 1930s French Line flagship, the SS Normandie. This coffee table book with 265 pictures allows readers to feel as if they were aboard the short-lived, stunning, Deco-styled, “floating palace”, surrounded by many of her famous passengers.
The book ends with the true story of Normandie’s tragic “death” in WW2. Dramatic even today, is the horrific image of America’s only large troop carrier lying on her side in New York City, only two months after Pearl Harbor, and the futile efforts to salvage her.
The newest lecture added to my inventory is the history of the amazing Mar-a-Lago. I begin with a discussion about how Marjorie Merriweather Post built a unique fantasy land, followed by the grand life she enjoyed from the mansion’s opening in 1927 until her death in 1973. I take the audience on a virtual tour of the house, and review what the home was like as a private residence for Donald Trump, later as the Mar-a-Lago Club, and finally as President Trump’s winter white house.