Books: Endless Surf!

Sweetness and Blood, by Michael Scott Moore     Photo: Courtesy of Rodale

When Michael Scott Moore, a SoCal kid raised in Redondo Beach, moved to Germany as a political journalist, he discovered something shocking in das Deutsche wasser: surfers on Munich's Isar River canals. That made Moore wonder: Is the globalization of surf culture a force for good or an ugly Americanization? He chronicles his quest for an answer in Sweetness and Blood: How Surfing Spread from Hawaii and California to the Rest of the World, with Some Unexpected Results (Rodale, $26, June). Moore drops in on surf culture in Japan, Morocco, Indonesia, Israel, Cuba, and the UK, charting both the history of the sport's growth and its effect on local behavior. It's a fascinating journey—Moore takes on everything from the politics of the 2002 Bali bombing to the lineup etiquette of England's Severn Bore—that ends with a satisfying answer: Surfing may have been spread by America's global expansion, but the sport's positive chi has overcome its imperial origins. The eternal appeal of boards in waves boils down to what one Japanese surfer told Moore: "It has good energy."

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