Philistines at the Hedgerow: Passion and Property in the Hamptons

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9780316309073: Philistines at the Hedgerow: Passion and Property in the Hamptons

A quirky cast of eccentrics vies for a slice of the Hamptons--on land still inhabited by families that have farmed and fished the regions for generations.

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Review:

The Hamptons, that famous string of beachside hamlets in New York State, are not just a quiet vacation spot for New England blue bloods like the duPonts and Vanderbilts. According to Steven Gaines, the author of a spate of "untold" and "true" biographies of such glitterati as Calvin Klein, they're also--surprise!--a sandbox of scandal.

And who exactly has been stirring things up? Gaines centers the book on an eccentric cast of characters in Hamptons history: semicloseted gay men of fabulous wealth and Ralph Lauren taste, half-cracked Mayflower descendants going to seed, and those "Philistines," the nouveau riche, blemishing the scenery with their terrible taste. "The establishment can hold off the newcomers for only so long," explains the author. "There are always more of Them than Us."

Heavily researched, the book is painstakingly detailed and unapologetically voyeuristic, full of "nine-ounce chilled Baccarat crystal stem glasses," "Chippendale sofas upholstered in Scalamandré silks," "Gucci loafers," and "fourteen-karat-gold wallpaper." It's a Champagne truffle: sinful, enticing, and pure froth at its center. --Maria Dolan

From AudioFile:

It may seem unusual to write a book about real estate, but the thirty miles of oceanfront farmland in the Hamptons has been bought and sold, visited, fought over, and coveted by some of the most creative, powerful, eccentric, and wealthy people who ever lived. They range from corporate moguls, to rock stars, artists, pirates and witches. Steven Gaines is a Hamptons "insider" who shares luscious gossip about the lucky few who have dwelled at one time or another on this precious land. His straightforward performance is enhanced by a haunting piece of piano music heard intermittently. Gaines entertains listeners with stories about Steven Spielberg's property, Martha Stewart's vicious feud with her neighbor, Jackson Pollock's untimely death, the witch hunts, early Native American and settler clashes, and many other fascinating stories. B.J.P. (c) AudioFile, Portland, Maine

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