Every Picture Tells The Story



Come and join The SOBO Art Gallery in Winter Garden for an in-person event and book signing with local Orlando author Mary Shanklin, as we celebrate her latest book, American Castle. General Admission is free, however when you pre-order a ticket with a book you will receive your book at 20% off.

If you cannot attend the event but would like a signed copy, please follow the link here, and add in the notes you would like a signed copy.

While Mary’s events are free to attend and open to all, a purchase of American Castle from Writer's Block Bookstore is required to enter the signing line.


The unvarnished history of America’s most notorious palace and its American queen

Moments before the Roaring Twenties sunk into the Great Depression, socialite heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post and financier E.F. Hutton constructed an estate to outdo all estates. To the tune of $4 million (about $68 million today) and four years of labor they called forth a 118-room mansion in a conflated Spanish, Portuguese, and Venetian design over a coral reef in hurricane-prone Palm Beach County. They named it Mar-a-Lago—a winter haven where corporate titans, the glitterati, and nobility gathered.

But the honeymoon didn’t last long.

In American Castle, Pulitzer Prize finalist Mary C. Shanklin reveals a century of controversy, politics, and lifestyles of the super-rich and powerful after Mar-a-Lago became a part-time residence and party place upon Post’s divorce from Hutton over mutual adultery. It’s a story of an American royal who, at the age of 27, inherited a cereal company that would later become the General Foods Corporation and spent a lifetime in business, art collection, philanthropy, and the management of multiple estates—including her white elephant, Mar-a-Lago. Though she tried time again, as Shanklin covers in riveting detail, Post could not offload the behemoth due to its extraordinary maintenance costs and the uppity Palm Beach neighbors.

Drawing from previously untapped interviews, documents, and recordings, Shanklin follows Mar-a-Lago’s evolution as it collides with the Kennedys, the state of Florida, a potential make-over as The Mar-a-Lago Center for Advanced Scholars, Lady Bird Johnson, Richard Nixon, the National Park Service, and—of course—Donald Trump, who pursued subdivision, threatened to sell to Reverend Sun Myung Moon and the Unification Church, hosted Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley, made it a for-profit club, received scandalous dinner guests, turned it into his Winter White House, and watched the FBI raid before holding a home-court presser as the first former president to face criminal charges.

How did the Palm Beach hamlet so lacquered in grace and elegance come to find itself rooted in scandal How, in fact, did Palm Beach’s most famous manse become the chew toy for tabloid headline writers? The answers are in American Castle: One Hundred Years of Mar-a-Lago.


Journalist Mary Shanklin has written for decades about real estate schemes, housing busts, hurricanes, and government misdeeds. Her stories have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Orlando Sentinel, USA Today, Architectural Record, and elsewhere. Mary was a Pulitzer finalist for a series on the Pulse nightclub shootings (team entry), and has won journalism awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, Investigative Reporters and Editors, the Education Writers Association, and the National Association of Real Estate Editors, as well as the Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism. She also teaches journalism at the University of Central Florida. She lives in Palm Beach County, Florida.

Event date: 
Thursday, October 19, 2023 - 7:00pm to 8:00pm
Event address: 
SOBO Art Gallery
127 S Boyd St
Winter Garden, FL 34747
American Castle: One Hundred Years of Mar-A-Lago By Mary Shanklin Cover Image
ISBN: 9781635768961
Availability: Available for Immediate Order
Published: Diversion Books - September 12th, 2023

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