Grace Elizabeth Hale is the Commonwealth Professor of American Studies and History at the University of Virginia. Her previous books include A Nation of Outsiders: How the White Middle Class Fell in Love with Rebellion in Postwar America and Making Whiteness: The Culture of Segregation in the South, 1890-1940.
A carefully constructed history of how Athens, Georgia became a cultural hot spot. . . . A welcome history of an overlooked milieu, one that provides ample inspiration for art makers today.--Kirkus Reviews Hale's rich, personal narrative draws readers in. . . . This colorfully rendered reverie will delight indie music fans.--Publishers Weekly Both a historian and a participant in the music scene, Hale crafts a lively account of 1980s Athens: the artists, their stories, and the haunts they frequented, such as the Grit and the 40 Watt Club.--Library Journal While the Athens buzz may have been manufactured, Athens is a very real place, and Hale writes with real passion about her formative years there.--The Current's Rock and Roll Book Club, Minnesota Public Radio Captivating. . . . A deeply researched, highly engaging history of the Athens music scene.--Atlanta Journal-Constitution Reconstructs the musical hotbed that birthed R. E.M., The B-52s, and Neutral Milk Hotel.--The AV Club Delivers more than a love song to the music. Cool Town also serves up a textured portrait of a generation caught between baby and tech booms, wriggling under the thumb of the mainstream--in the pre-internet days when 'mainstream' was a discernible thing--and rummaging through thrift-store bins both literal and figurative in an effort to create something new.--New York Times Book Review [The Athens Effect] propagated a thrift-store, sexually fluid, avant-pop aesthetic that seemed more accessible than the extremes of punk or of successors such as goth. The fun of Cool Town is to hear where those elements came from, illuminated by Hale's theories about why, and, most poignantly, what it means today.--Bookforum A lovingly rendered and richly realized panorama of a new alternative aesthetic in the making. . . . Hale's lucid prose vibrates with generosity as she tells the story of a small town on the move, that surprisingly moved the world. Cool Town is a must-read for anyone interested in the ideas of place and placemaking, and the history of bohemian cultures, alternative music, and the New South.--The Metropole A detailed work of art. . . . It's hard to imagine an author better qualified or a book more up to the task. Cool Town has done its job admirably.--level: deepsouth Offers an insider's perspective, but with the thorough research typical of her profession. . . . Hale, rather than celebrate and catalog Athens music, contextualizes the music as the most visible product of a culture both experimental and insular, and of a community that nurtured its artists. . . . We see in the Athens of Cool Town the beginnings of the indie culture we may recognize today.--The Georgia Review A thorough history of the scene told from an insider's p.o.v. and buttressed on thorough research. . . . The Cool Town story is multifaceted enough to be interesting without Hale's personal perspective, but that perspective is what makes the storytelling moving and absorbing.--Mike Segretto, Psychobabble