The Kings of Cool: A Prequel to Savages

The Kings of Cool: A Prequel to Savages

by Don Winslow


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Published to coincide with the release of Academy Award-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone’s major film of Savages from Universal Pictures in July 2012—starring John Travolta, Blake Lively, Benecio Del Toro, Uma Thurman, Emile Hirsch, Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson, and Salma Hayek—this is the much-anticipated prequel to Don Winslow’s acclaimed New York Times bestseller.

In Savages, Don Winslow introduced Ben and Chon, twenty-something best friends who risk everything to save the girl they both love, O. Among the most celebrated thrillers in recent memory—and now a major motion picture directed by Academy Award–winning filmmaker Oliver Stone—Savages was picked as a best book of the year by Stephen King in Entertainment Weekly, Janet Maslin in The New York Times, and Sarah Weinman in the Los Angeles Times.

Now, in this high-octane prequel, Winslow reaches back in time to tell the story of how Ben, Chon, and O became the people they are. Spanning from 1960s Southern California to the recent past, The Kings of Cool is a breathtakingly original saga of family in all its forms—fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, friends and lovers. As the trio at the center of the book does battle with a cabal of drug dealers and crooked cops, they come to learn that their future is inextricably linked with their parents’ history. A series of breakneck twists and turns puts the two generations on a collision course, culminating in a stunning showdown that will force Ben, Chon, and O to choose between their real families and their loyalty to one another.

Fast-paced, provocative, and wickedly funny, The Kings of Cool is a spellbinding love story for our times from a master novelist at the height of his powers. It is filled with Winslow’s trademark talents—complex characters, sharp dialogue, blistering social commentary—that have earned him an obsessive following. The result is a book that will echo in your mind and heart long after you’ve turned the last page.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781451665338
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 06/18/2013
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 322
Sales rank: 63,118
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Don Winslow is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen novels. He lives in Southern California.

Read an Excerpt

Laguna Beach, California


Is what O is thinking as she sits between Chon and Ben on a bench at Main Beach and picks out potential mates for them.

“That one?” she asks, pointing at a classic BB (Basically Baywatch) strolling down the boardwalk.

Chon shakes his head.

A little dismissively, O thinks. Chon is pretty choosy for a guy who spends most of his time in Afghanistan or Iraq and doesn’t see much in the way of anything outside cammies or a burqa.

Actually, she can see how the burqa thing could be pretty hot if you played it off right.

Did, you know, the harem thing.

Yeah, no.

The burqa ain’t gonna work for O. You don’t want to hide that blonde hair, you don’t want those bright eyes peeking out from behind a niqab.

O was made for sunshine.

California gurl.

Chon, he ain’t small but he’s thin. O thinks he looks even thinner than usual. He’s always been cut, but now it looks like he’s been carved with a scalpel. And she likes the short, almost shaved, hair.

“That one?” she asks, jutting her chin at a tourist-type brunette with really big tits and a retroussé nose.

Chon shakes his head.

Ben remains silent, sphinx-like, which is a role reversal, because Ben is usually the more verbal of the two. This isn’t a high bar to jump, as Chon doesn’t talk a lot, except when he goes off on a rant; then it’s like you pulled the plug from a fire hose.

While Ben is the more verbal, O considers now, he’s also the less promiscuous.

Ben is more Consecutive Monogamy while Chon is more Women Are To Be Served Concurrently. Although O knows for a fact that both of them—albeit Chon more than Ben—take full advantage of the Tourist Chicks who watch them play volleyball here at the beach, just a few convenient paces from the Hotel Laguna—encounters she refers to as FRSO.

Fuck—Room Service—Shower—Out.

“That pretty much sums it up,” Chon has admitted.

Although at times he skips the room service.

Never the shower.

Basic rule of survival in the Greater Cross V Crescent Sandbox Tournament:

If there’s a shower, take it.

He can’t shake off the habit at home.

Anyway, Chon admits to doing matinees at the Hotel Laguna, the Ritz, the St. Regis, and the Montage with not only tourist women but also Orange County Trophy Wives and divorcées—the difference between the two being strictly temporary.

That’s the thing about Chon—he’s totally honest. No pretensions, no evasions, no apologies. O can’t decide if that’s because he’s so ethical or because he just doesn’t give a fuck.

Now he turns to her and says, “You have one strike left. Choose carefully.”

It’s a game they play—ODB—Offline Dating Baseball. Predicting each other’s sexual preferences and hitting for a single, a double, a triple, or a Home Run. It’s a really good game when you’re high, which they are now, on some of Ben and Chon’s supremo weed.

(Which is not weed at all, but a top-of-the-line hydro blend they call Saturday In The Park because if you take a hit of this stuff any day is Saturday and any place is the park.)

O is usually the Sammy Sosa of ODB, but now, with runners on first and third, she’s striking out.

“Well?” Chon asks her.

“I’m waiting for a good pitch,” she says, scanning the beach.

Chon’s been in Iraq, he’s been in Afghanistan . . .

. . . Go exotic.

She points to a beautiful South Asian girl with shimmering black hair setting off her white beach dress.


“Strikeout,” Chon answers. “Not my type.”

“What is your type?” O asks, frustrated.

“Tan,” Chon answers, “thin—sweet face—big brown eyes, long lashes.”

O turns to Ben.

“Ben, Chon wants to fuck Bambi.”

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The Kings of Cool: A Prequel to Savages 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
ABookAWeekES More than 1 year ago
A couple years ago, Don Winslow made waves with his fast and edgy novel, "Savages", in which young drug "entrepreneurs", Ben and Chon, embarked in a war against a Mexican drug group who kidnapped their shared girlfriend, O. It was, arguably, one of the best thrillers of that year and even spawned a film adaptation by director Oliver Stone. Now, Winslow returns to this version of California in a prequel, "The Kings of Cool". The novel centers on two main stories, one taking place around 2005 and the other beginning in the 1960's. Both portions are presented in alternating sections until the two narratives meet in the latter portion of the book. The 1960's story tells the tale of young Californians experimenting with the various drugs of the time. A few characters, from various backgrounds, discover the potential business opportunities that these drugs posses, and become involved with the drug trade. In 2005, Ben, Chon and O, are all recent high school graduates. Instead of following the traditional paths of their peers, they grow their own highly potent marijuana. As they become recognized for their superior product, their competitors begin to take notice. They are required to pay a portion of their earnings to their competitors in order to continue selling their drugs (think a kind of business tax). In the course of a couple of weeks, Chon receives orders to take his third deployment to the war in Iraq, O begins to search for her unknown father, and Ben is left to deal with the business. After his competitors murder a couple of his street peddlers, Ben must try to deal with the problem. "The Kings of Cool" is the best thriller I have read this year. Winslow's unique writing style is the perfect vehicle for a story like this. His bare prose and timely observations provide a contemporary edge that breathes life into this unconventional tale. The characters are so convincing that you can't help but root for theses drug dealing criminals to beat out their competitors. The two story lines seamlessly weave together, all driving towards an ending with the perfect amount of twist and resolution. I thought that perhaps with all of the praise that "Savages" received, Winslow was somehow pressured into writing another novel with the same characters. Fortunately, he avoided the traps that many series authors fall in to, creating a story that felt naturally conceived and executed flawlessly. I understand that the subject matter and the way it is presented may be unappealing to some, but for those looking for a thriller that is a bit outside of their normal reading habits, this is a must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Too many F words in first pages make me wish the author would use a dictionary. Decided not to read it.
Drewano More than 1 year ago
‘The Kings of Cool’ is vintage Don Winslow. He offers great insights into his characters with deep intriguing plots with a few twists along the way. A thought provoking and well thought out story that keeps you engaged (more suspense than a thriller), this book takes you through 30 years of So Cal life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TulaneGirl More than 1 year ago
Read this book because I heard such great things about Savages and decided to give the prequel a go. So, it's set primarily in Laguna Bech and shifts back and forth in time between the 1960's and 2005. In 2005 we start with the history of Chon, Ben, and O an how and why they became fast friends and business partners. In the 60's, 70's, and 80's we are introduced to Chon, Ben, and O's parents and the tangle web they weave unbeknownst to the younger generation. I actually enjoyed the older generation story much more than I enjoyed the younger generation. With some exceptions, mainly Chon in the younger generation, the characters had much more depth. I liked following the character's progressions through the years - Doc from crunchy cult leader to shrewd business man; Stan and Diane from idealistic hippies to middle class suburban parents; Kim as she followed her life plan to use her beauty to never be hungry again; and finally Jon, the steadfast individual who never really changed his ideals. So what I loved most about the book was the prose and writing style. I liked the short, on point chapters that seamlessly flowed from one to another. The author effortlessly jumped back and forth in time in places that always made sense. So, why did it not get more stars from me? Because of the mysogyny. The female characters were awful. Diane was a shrew. Kim was a gold digger. And O. O was just the worst of them all. She was a whiny, spoiled, self-absorbed woman-child. It got to the point where I really just wanted to fast forward through all the female characters. I was almost sad to know that O was in Savages because I kept hoping a successful hit would be put on her and I wouldn't have to suffer through her character any more. As an extremely sad commentary, had the author taken out the female characters, it would have been a much better book.
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I so enjoyed these characters. I'm sorry they are gone. Would love to know what happens next. I also recommend that you read Savages to get the whole story.
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This book is fast-paced and interesting. I loved the multi-generational story line and how they all came together in a epic conclusion. I'm reading Savages....immediately!
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Lets hang out ssometime
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
U there? Angel
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gtg. Nite. ~Elena