How did an obscure tribal sport from precolonial Hawaii—one that was nearly eliminated by Christian missionaries—jump oceans to California and Australia? And how did it become such a worldwide passion, even in places where the surf may be excellent but the society is highly conservative or superstitious about the sea?
In Sweetness and Blood—a brilliantly written travel adventure—journalist (and surfer) Michael Scott Moore visits unlikely surfing destinations—Israel and the Gaza Strip, West Africa, Great Britain, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Cuba, and Morocco—to find out. Whether he is connecting eccentric surf legend Doc Paskowitz to the Arab-Israeli conflict, trying to deconstruct the terrorist bombing in a nightclub in Bali, or being chased by the German police while surfing a river break in Berlin, Moore masterfully weaves together politics, culture, history, and surfing to create a book like no other.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
as a history of surfing, this book isn't definitive. It completely shortchanges--among other major forces--Dale Velzy, Mary Ann Hawkins, Greg Noll, and most of Australia. What I've tried to assemble is a folk history of surfing, a personal sketch for any curious reader of how the modern sport moved around the world and mingled with cultures that either have nothing to do with Hawaii or have strong reasons to resist pop silliness from the first world. The result is a story of hippies, soldiers, nutcases, and colonialism, a checkered history of the spread of Western culture in the years after World War II.
"Dude, you should have gone to Brazil," people told me. Or, "Are there really good waves in Gaza?"--as if the point were to search for beautiful surf. No, no, no. I left out major wave-riding nations like Mexico, France, and South Africa because most surfers know about them. Wherever possible I chose offbeat nearby countries (Cuba, Germany, Sao Tome and Principe) to give the general reader an idea of how surfing reached each general part of the world and still, I hope, offer the dedicated surf historian something new--about how the sport mingled with Communism, or how it wound up in the North Sea.
The travel--spread over several years--starts with Chapter 2. Chapter 1 is really a prologue, a highly subjective but (I hope) still interesting review of the basic facts. I set out on this book as a landlocked scribbler, living as a journalist in Berlin. But I'd never stopped being a surfer, and I'd lived too long thinking the material I grew up with, the relentless superficial glare of southern California, had no value for a writer. Even pop culture has a human history, and modern surfing happens to be as American as baseball or jazz. By that I don't mean to claim it for America--surfing, almost as much as soccer, is a world sport--but I do want to provide ammunition against the eternal domestic bigots who say certain (ever-shifting, normally coastal) parts of America somehow don't belong; or against Europeans who think everything exported by America is bad; or against Northeastern snobs who think surfing isn't worth their time. Those three groups of people would never care to be caught together at a dinner party, but to me they're partners in ignorance.
Anyway, this isn't Endless Summer. It's not a pleasure trip, or a search for the ultimate stoke. When a surfer takes off on a wave, there are two possible results, and my book is about them both.
Table of Contents
Author's Apology vii
Chapter 1 California and Hawaii: As Civilization Advances 1
Chapter 2 Indonesia: Bulé Bulé 33
Chapter 3 Germany: The Fun-Gesellschaft 67
Chapter 4 Morocco: Kilroy Was Here 95
Chapter 5 United Kingdom: English Incomers 137
Chapter 6 Israel and the Gaza Strip: Two Opposed Ideas 171
Chapter 7 Cuba: La Otra Revolución 217
Chapter 8 São Tomé and Príncipe: The Stern of an Old Canoe 249
Chapter 9 Japan: Plastics 283
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
DO NOT READ! IT'S SUCKY!