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Publisher's Summary

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 best seller.

In Savages, Don Winslow introduced Ben and Chon, twentysomething best friends who risk everything to save the girl they both love, O. Among the most celebrated literary thrillers in recent memory, Savages was a Top 10 Book of 2010 selection by Janet Maslin in The New York Times and Stephen King in Entertainment Weekly as well as Sarah Weinman in the Los Angeles Times and publications around the world.

Now, in his 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, it is a tale of family in all its forms - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, friends and lovers. As the younger generation 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 ultimately force Ben, Chon, and O to choose between their real families and their love for each other.

©2012 Don Winslow (P)2012 Simon & Schuster

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Joanne
  • Burlington, Ontario, Canada
  • 07-01-12

Terrific entertainment

I'm a fan of Don Winslow's SoCal books and this story is not only a fantastic prequel to "Savages" (please produce an Audible version of this book with the incomparable Holter Graham as narrator) but a great source of context for the others. The "Kings of Cool" is fast-paced, extremely well-performed and hard to put down. I loved learning more about O, Ben and Chon. I think the book can stand on its own for those who haven't read "Savages" or listened to/read Mr. Winslow's other SoCal books but if you have the chance to read some of these books first, it might make your experience more enjoyable. As for me, I'm about to listen to "The Gentleman's Hour" again - and can hardly wait.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 09-28-17

The truth always come home...

I actually preferred Winslow's 'Kings of Cool' to Savages. Both are slick and sexy Southern California crime novels, but KoC (the prequel to Savages) is structurally a more complicated novel. The backstory on the genesis of the Savages/Kings of Cool was interesting and allowed Winslow to explore the rise and changes in Southern California drug culture. And, I know. I know. Steven King LOVED Savages. What's my problem then? It might just be me. I just found both Savages and Kings of Cool to be a little too slick and superficial. It was MTV it wasn't jazz. It hit all the notes and technically hit them well, but I just wasn't changed or altered by the books.

Again, this goes back to judging these books using the knowledge that Winslow CAN write 'The Cartel' and 'The Power of the Dog'. These seem like the product of a skilled crime writer who knows exactly what he's doing, but is mailing it in. Or, perhaps, not mailing it in, but softening the edges and polishing it to a point it is shell with no heart. It seems like a well-designed Apple product. Slick, pretty, sexy even, but... some grit or friction is missing. But again, I find myself over criticizing it because I KNOW the powerful writing Winslow CAN produce. Perhaps, it is my problem and it is an expectation problem. As cotton candy, this stuff is great. As a book that can easily transfer to celluloid, this book is perfect. Hell, Oliver Stone MADE Savages into a movie and the movie made money.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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I'm all into Don Winslow

So many twists! awesome narration... The best one by him for me so far- will purchase more!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Lauren
  • Chicago, IL, United States
  • 01-15-13

Prequel Not As Good As Sequel

I didn't like this prequel to Savages. I feel like I had a better understanding of the characters had I not listened to The Kings of Cool. The story was really complicated and there were a ton of characters that I never really got a handle on...in other words it sort of just went in one ear and out the other.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Fascinating on multiple levels

This prequel to Winslow's "Savages" provides a lot of context and answers many questions that come up in Savages. It's a complicated story, but ultimately worth the effort and I think there is plenty of material for Winslow to produce a third volume in this series.

The book is also interesting because it makes the case that the change from the a drug culture based on marijuana (mellow, working on a groovy thing, Woodstock’) to a drug culture based on cocaine (intensity, violence, and the potential to make big money, Altamont) is a metaphor for a larger change in American society.

I liked Michael Kramer’s performance in “Savages” better than Holter Graham’s performance in “Kings of Cool.” They are both really good, but Kramer brings an edge and attitude to his interpretation that better supports the text.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Excellent

What made the experience of listening to The Kings of Cool the most enjoyable?

Started a little slow and I wasn't sure I was going to finish it. It jumped around a lot but it turned out to be an excellent listen. I will listen to it again latter on.

Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

Yes but it jumped around a lot

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Disappointing

This book did not live up to Savages. The audio book reader was also a bit too Shatner for me. Staccato rhythm and dramatic pauses until the emphasis lost all meaning.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Fun but...

Really enjoyed the fun story mostly because of Holter Grahams delivery. My objection was that the book read like a screen play with over 300 chapter markers including scene setups. Seems a bit lazy on Winslow's part as if he didn't want to do a rewrite for the movie.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Like my Brother before Me I took a Rebel Stand!

The rants and insights on the decline of the republic were priceless. After hippies came Charlie Manson, assassinations and overdoses of all our heroes, to the greed and excess of the cocaine 80's making conspicuous consumption, pecuniary emulation and invidious distinctions all the rage. We had Bush Senior selling cocaine to pay for black ops, to Clinton's sperm on interns dresses to a coked up W being handled by evil, old dudes making up lies and spreading weaponized fake news to get us involved in useless and totally unnecessary, endless wars. Then the post Orwellian Change agent came and started drone striking "terrorists", women and children around the world and lying about ending the Patriot Act but creating a true nanny state with the help of the NSA. The devolution continues and maybe the kings of cool are right and drugs are the only sane reaction to the insanity our world has become.

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  • Reno
  • Virginia
  • 01-15-17

Much, MUCH better than "Savages"!!!

I was pleasantly, thoroughly surprised to find this book was so much better than "Savages" to which this is prequel. While "Savages" was largely for a younger reader(Don Winslow's twisted, X rated version of Y.A. in my opinion) I'm only 37 but even I found it("Savages") the slightest bit immature. I say this as an absolute Don Winslow fanatic btw. "King's of Cool" was way cooler as it unfolded the ancestral back stories of "Savages" main characters. There were a couple spectacular cameos from other Winslow novels too which were great fun! I actually loved this book, it's what "Savages" should have been. If you haven't read "Savages", do so before you read this, just for the knowledge of things that will make this so much more fun to read. I also greatly recommend reading(/listening) to "The Winter of Frankie Machine" and "The Legend of Bobby Z" B4 you read "King's of Cool", it's not necessary but makes it SO MUCH cooler if you do. Just trust me. So if you loved OR didn't like "Savages", you'll LOVE LOVE "King's of Cool"!!!