On the Beach

The high-powered playground known as the Hamptons

It's "the most self-conscious place on the entire planet," one British journalist recently observed of the high-powered playground known as the Hamptons. It wasn't always so, however, as Alastair Gordon makes clear in his breezy, refreshingly opinionated Weekend Utopia: Modern Living In the Hamptons (Princeton Architectural Press; $45). The well-illustrated history is full of home-building anecdotes, from the shingled artist-colony cottages of the 1870s to the free-living studios of Pollock and De Kooning in the 1950s to the Wall Street and Hollywood ego-stroking estates of the '80s and '90s.