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Hamptons for All!

Culture Watch
“The Big Book of the Hamptons,” published by Assouline.

If there’s one place that is the bastion of elegance, high-class and East Coast panache, it’s the Hamptons. The storied getaway holds a certain cachet that charms the world’s elite into buying and building along its picturesque streets and coveted shoreline. “The Big Book of the Hamptons,” with an introduction by Michael Shnayerson, celebrates this iconic strip on Long Island.

The towns of East Hampton and Southampton not only serve as vacation escapes, but also as inspirational scenes to artists for centuries, including writer Kurt Vonnegut, painters Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol. Lake Agawam, “Queen of America’s Watering Places,” in Southampton, is a gem, with lavish homes, exclusive clubs and a charming downtown area.

Just for a little fun game of “if only I bought then,” historical edition, in 1887 the Agawam cottages sold for $4,000, and today, the houses go for $14,000,000. Admirers include Walt Whitman, Fitzgerald, The Kennedys and Marilyn Monroe, who according to this book, “fell in love with the idyllic imagery resonant of the “American Dream” with blossoming trees, horse stables, Americana-road signs and sailboats.”

The natural beauty of the Hamptons is not the only visual candy explored. Quotes and anecdotes from notable Hamptons enthusiasts including Frank Stella and Willem de Kooning also fill its pages. The distinctive architecture is also surveyed, from the modern to the rustic to the palatial marvels.

The author, Michael Shnayerson, a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, is also a full-time Hamptonite, having lived in Sag Harbor and Bridgehampton for more than 20 years. A summer read is no more fitting than with a book highlighting a town synonymous with the season itself.

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