Sun, Sand, Splendor: Books About the Hamptons

Sun, Sand, Splendor: Books About the Hamptons

The Hamptons have a rich history full of artists, weirdos, writers, the unimaginably wealthy and the strange things they get up to after a few G&Ts. Just in time for your jitney ride, here’s our Hamptons reading list, covering everything from Jackson Pollock’s better half to the slow death of the fishing industry. 

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    1. Philistines at the Hedgerow

    “The establishment can hold off the newcomers for only so long,” explains the author. “There are always more of Them than Us.” From 17th-century Puritans to wizards of Wall Street, the old guard has battled arrivistes over zoning laws, eccentric architecture and, in the legendary feud between neighbors Martha Stewart and developer Harry Macklowe, a stand of evergreens. This entertaining social history features many famous names, but real estate is the real star.

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    2. Lee Krasner

    Her work was perpetually overshadowed by the paintings of her husband, Abstract Expressionist giant Jackson Pollack, but Krasner is finally given her due in this incisive biography. The couple lived and painted on a small property near East Hampton and were key players in the postwar art scene. A self-described “tough cookie,” Krasner never regretted putting her career behind Pollack’s, but Levin restorers her reputation as an important artist whose canvases hang in America’s major museums.

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    3. Sag Harbor

    This coming-of-age novel set in the little-known community of Azurest–an African-American enclave where Whitehead’s family has summered since the 1940s–tells the story of Benji Cooper, a 15-year-old prep-school nerd, as he meanders through the summer of ’85. Whitehead story of “black boys with beach houses” brims with pop references (New Coke, anyone?).

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    4. Men’s Lives

    Matthiessen explores the once vibrant Long Island fishing industry through interviews with old timers whose families go back generations, but whose livelihoods are threatened by modern realities. “If the fishermen go,” writes Matthiessen in this elegiac tribute, “a vital part of the South Fork will be gone — a sense of the place will be missing.”

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    5. In the Hamptons

    Written by the publisher of a local newspaper, Rattiner’s vignettes chronicle the assorted characters he’s met, including colorful locals, and celebs like Billy Joel, and softball mates Bill Clinton and the late George Plimpton.


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