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Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life

by William Finnegan

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Overview

**Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Autobiography**

Included in President Obama’s 2016 Summer Reading List

“Without a doubt, the finest surf book I’ve ever read . . . ” —The New York Times Magazine

Barbarian Days is William Finnegan’s memoir of an obsession, a complex enchantment. Surfing only looks like a sport. To initiates, it is something else: a beautiful addiction, a demanding course of study, a morally dangerous pastime, a way of life. 
 
Raised in California and Hawaii, Finnegan started surfing as a child. He has chased waves all over the world, wandering for years through the South Pacific, Australia, Asia, Africa. A bookish boy, and then an excessively adventurous young man, he went on to become a distinguished writer and war reporter. Barbarian Days takes us deep into unfamiliar worlds, some of them right under our noses—off the coasts of New York and San Francisco. It immerses the reader in the edgy camaraderie of close male friendships forged in challenging waves.
 
Finnegan shares stories of life in a whites-only gang in a tough school in Honolulu. He shows us a world turned upside down for kids and adults alike by the social upheavals of the 1960s. He details the intricacies of famous waves and his own apprenticeships to them. Youthful folly—he drops LSD while riding huge Honolua Bay, on Maui—is served up with rueful humor. As Finnegan’s travels take him ever farther afield, he discovers the picturesque simplicity of a Samoan fishing village, dissects the sexual politics of Tongan interactions with Americans and Japanese, and navigates the Indonesian black market while nearly succumbing to malaria. Throughout, he surfs, carrying readers with him on rides of harrowing, unprecedented lucidity.
 
Barbarian Days is an old-school adventure story, an intellectual autobiography, a social history, a literary road movie, and an extraordinary exploration of the gradual mastering of an exacting, little-understood art.


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594203473
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/21/2015
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 242,704
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

WILLIAM FINNEGAN is the author of Cold New World, A Complicated War, Dateline Soweto, and Crossing the Line. He has twice been a National Magazine Award finalist and has won numerous journalism awards, including two Overseas Press Club awards since 2009. Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life received the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Autobiography. A staff writer at The New Yorker since 1987, he lives in Manhattan.

Read an Excerpt

From Barbarian Days by William Finnegan. Reprinted by arrangement with Penguin Press, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © William Finnegan, 2015.
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Excerpted from "Barbarian Days"
by .
Copyright © 2015 William Finnegan.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

1 Off Diamond Head: Honolulu, 1966-67 1

2 Smell the Ocean: California, ca. 1956-65 59

3 The Shock of the New: California, 1968 85

4 'Scuse Me While I Kiss The Sky: Maui, 1971 105

5 The Search: The South Pacific, 1978 147

6 The Lucky Country: Australia, 1978-79 209

7 Choosing Ethiopia: Asia, Africa, 1979-81 237

8 Against Dereliction: San Francisco, 1983-86 277

9 Basso Profundo: Madeira, 1994-2003 351

10 The Mountains Fall into the Heart of the Sea: New York City, 2002-15 409

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