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Review: The Hiltons

August 12, 2014

The Hiltons

Conrad Hilton was born in New Mexico in 1887.  His childhood was pretty typical for the time.  Things weren’t always easy but he was able to attend college.  He was determined to succeed and tried several business ventures before settling on the hotel business where he was a huge success.  He had a keen business sense and was an innovative pioneer in the field.

Unfortunately, Hilton’s personal life wasn’t the success his business life was.  Contrary to the teachings of his beloved Catholic church, Hilton’s first marriage ended in divorce.  He raised two of the sons from that marriage and left the other with his ex-wife.  After his divorce he became smitten with Zsa Zsa Gabor – their marriage was doomed from the start.  Gabor had a daughter and said Hilton was the father but he always had his doubts.

Hilton’s sons grew up and went into the family business with him.  His older son Nicky married Elizabeth Taylor in a media frenzy and it, too, was a marriage doomed from the start.  He later married happily but always struggled with personal demons and suffered from company in-fighting.  Hilton’s middle son, Barron, married happily and fit well in the business.  He was as ambitious as his father and didn’t hesitate to maneuver to make things go his way.

Conrad and his sons didn’t believe in passing their wealth down – instead they made charities the beneficiaries of their estates causing hard feelings within the family.  It seems that each generation has one person with drive and ambition and Paris looks to be the one in the current generation.

The Hiltons: The True Story of an American Dynasty by J. Randy Taraborrelli is just what is sounds like – the history of a celebrated American family.  I thought Taraborrelli did a great job researching his subjects and presenting a balanced view of the family and its patriarch – he presented both praise and criticism.  I listened to the audio version of the book and I found it fascinating.  I didn’t know much about the family going into the book so most of what was presented was new to me.  Robert Petkoff does an outstanding job narrating the 19 and a half hour book.  Photos are included on the last CD.  If you like biographies and/or true family sagas, you won’t want to miss this book!

Review copy provided by Hachette Books. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.


25 Comments leave one →
  1. August 12, 2014 5:13 am

    I did not know much about the Hilton’s either. The Hilton Colombo was one of the first five star hotels in my country.

  2. Hilary permalink
    August 12, 2014 6:27 am

    I don’t know much about them either… This sounds like a book I’d enjoy

  3. August 12, 2014 8:05 am

    This book sounds fascinating. I didn’t know about the Hilton’s, but learned a few things in your review.

  4. August 12, 2014 8:11 am

    Sounds pretty interesting but wow, 19 and a half hours!

  5. August 12, 2014 8:24 am

    I don’t know much about the Hilton’s, and this sounds like a really interesting biography! Would definitely choose audio over print for something like this.

  6. Patty permalink
    August 12, 2014 8:42 am

    It does sound fascinating…I wish I liked biographies!

  7. August 12, 2014 10:24 am

    I like this stuff. Some of these family histories are better than fiction!

  8. August 12, 2014 10:35 am

    sounds interesting

  9. August 12, 2014 10:51 am

    The only thing I know about the Hilton’s is that Paris was a train wreck waiting to happen. I’ll probably pass on this one, but it does sound interesting.

  10. Beth Hoffman permalink
    August 12, 2014 10:51 am

    I saw an interview with Kathy Hilton where she said her daughters were as close to royalty as we Americans would ever get. From that moment on, I despised her.

  11. August 12, 2014 10:52 am

    It does sound interesting

  12. August 12, 2014 11:17 am

    I read Conrad Hilton’s Be My Guest, his take on his life and business (It was provided as free reading material in the Hilton Hotel we stayed at.) Now I know where I can find the ‘rest of the story’. Thanks for the review!

  13. August 12, 2014 12:39 pm

    I know so little about the Hiltons. This sounds like an interesting read.

  14. August 12, 2014 1:28 pm

    I know little about the Hiltons. This doe sound fascinating.

  15. August 12, 2014 2:42 pm

    I’m glad you liked this, Kathy!

  16. August 12, 2014 3:09 pm

    So very interesting. Thanks for the review.

  17. August 12, 2014 4:28 pm

    Sounds fascinating! But I kind of feel like Holly and Beth – the current Hilton’s have made the name a dirty word for me/

  18. August 12, 2014 5:50 pm

    I don’t know much about this family either but boy, does it sound like there is so much ill-will and negativity bounding around. Sounds like this will be a fascinating read.

  19. August 13, 2014 2:33 pm

    nineteen hours?!? that’s a lot of Hilton biography! they are a fascinating bunch

  20. bookingmama permalink
    August 13, 2014 5:20 pm

    Wow — that’s a long biography! I honestly know very little about them and am not sure that I want to know more.

  21. August 14, 2014 11:02 am

    I had no idea the Hilton Dynasty re-started itself. If Paris is in charge of keeping it afloat…that doesn’t sound good.

  22. August 14, 2014 2:27 pm

    Learning about established families is always kind of intriguing, though I confess I’ve never been particularly interested in the Hiltons.

    I just finished watching History Channel’s The Men who Built America and found it fascinating to learn more about such icons of American history.

  23. August 14, 2014 9:38 pm

    I have such a negative view of Paris (and her mother for reasons like Beth gave) that I probably couldn’t enjoy this one!

  24. Beth F permalink
    August 15, 2014 10:31 am

    I have this on my list — now I think I’d better bump this up on the list. I love that the photos are available on the CD

  25. August 31, 2014 12:23 pm

    I’m not a fan of biographies but I will keep this narrator in mind since he made listening to this book fascinating.

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