Sweetness and Blood: How Surfing Spread from Hawaii and California to the Rest of the World, with Some Unexpected Results

Categories: Books, Featured

An elegant and surprising history of surfing that examines its cultural influence in some of the most unexpected places

How did an obscure tribal sport from precolonial Hawaii—one that was nearly eliminated on its home islands by Christian missionaries—jump oceans to California and Australia? And how did it become such a worldwide passion, influencing lives around the globe?

In this brilliantly written travel adventure, journalist and surfer Moore visits unlikely surfing destinations —Gaza, West Africa, North England, Berlin, Bali, Japan, Cuba, and Morocco—to give the reader a folk history of surfing. This is 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 the story of hippies, soldiers, nutcases, and colonialism; a checkered history of the spread of Western culture in the years after World War II.

Moore brings to his subject a sense of adventure and relevance that will appeal to surfers and nonsurfers alike.

Editorial Reviews


“Moore and a robust wet suit have boldly gone where only serious and often seriously unhinged
dudes have gone before, mapping out a fresh, unexpected cartography of the waves. . . . What he has
done, subtly and beguilingly, is write a book about surfing that often is not really about surfing but
about simply being alive.”   New York Times Book Review “[A] lovely ride, a sweet story told with a lilt.” Los Angeles Times“Jolly!”  The Economist
“A lively global jaunt that will offer some surprises even for the heartiest of wave-riding experts.” The Washington Post

“[He] burrows into each locale with a keen ear for dialogue and a bullshit detector set to ‘stun’ . . . The clarity of his prose leaves us hungry for Moore.” The Surfer’s Journal
“Warm, smart, funny, and beautifully written. Sweetness and Blood goes off the beaten surf-path to give us a bigger, more interesting surf world.” Matt Warshaw, author of The History of Surfing
Sweetness and Blood is a lively tour de force of travel writing and enterprising research that tells the truly fascinating story of surfing’s spread into unlikely corners of the globe. This is like Beach Boys music for the sun-hungry brain, imagination, and soul.” Francisco Goldman, author of Say Her Name and The Art of Political Murder: Who Killed the Bishop?

About the Author

MICHAEL SCOTT MOORE is a novelist and journalist from California. He was a 2006-2007 Fulbright fellow in Berlin, where he currently works for Spiegel Online and writes a column for Miller-McCune Magazine. His first novel, Too Much of Nothing, was published by Carroll & Graf in 2003. He’s written on politics and travel for publications such as The Atlantic MonthlySlate, and the Financial Times. He’s also at work on a second novel.
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