The 1950s and ’60s marked an era of glitz and glamour when the world seemed transfixed on the flamboyant lifestyles of the rich and famous. But pull back the curtains and there are untold stories that reflect a much darker reality for some of the “privileged” children of these celebrities.
In his eye-opening memoir, I Survived Swiss Boarding Schools: All That Glitters Is Not Gold, noted historian and accomplished author Richard René Silvin shares his riveting and dramatic account about his time behind the walls of two very different Swiss boarding schools.
At the tender age of seven, Silvin was enrolled in La Clairière, a tiny Swiss boarding school for young boys that his parents had never even seen. It was there where he learned to escape random beatings by the headmaster and to avoid a pedophile woodcutter.
Three years later, René was moved to the world-famous Le Rosey, where he was surrounded by children of Hollywood legends like Elizabeth Taylor and Marlene Dietrich; international corporate tycoons like the Rockefeller and Onassis families; and European and Middle Eastern royalty. But his brushes with celebrity came at a very steep price.
Silvin endured bullying and sexual assault and was branded a “homo” in an abundantly homophobic institution. He endured harsh discipline from his disapproving family and Le Rosey’s headmaster, but somehow, he found the determination to emerge from his nightmare through his pursuit of athletic excellence. He chose rowing, a previously popular sport, then led by the current Aga Khan. But René resurrected the sport, and they ultimately became Swiss national rowing champions in 1966. His story culminates in an unexpected and intriguing twist.
I loved this book! I felt the sorrow “with” Silvin as a young boy. I was able to relate to Silvin in a lot of his life experiences, and I felt anxious for Silvin in his conquest. I highly recommend this book! This is not a book that you read a couple of chapters and can’t put it down. I kept putting it down and coming back to it the next day and the next day, and the next. It was simply interesting with a lot of name dropping and photos. But, it is a story of a life well lived with tragedy, perseverance, and victory!
Born in New York, author Richard René Silvin grew up in Switzerland. He spent 25 years in the investor-owned hospital industry and rose to the head of the international division of American Medical International, Inc., which owned and operated hospitals in 10 countries. Since retiring after surviving late-stage cancer, Silvin has published five books. Although his writing began as a retirement hobby, it quickly morphed into a second career. He lectures widely on the historical subjects of his books and has become recognized as a leading authority on the Duchess of Windsor, Addison Mizner, the SS Normandie and Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach. Silvin is the vice-chairman of the Palm Beach Landmarks Preservation Commission, and he is listed in Who’s Who in the World and Who’s Who in Health Care.
For more information, please visit www.rrsilvin.com