The World in the Curl: An Unconventional History of Surfing

Author(s): Peter Westwick; Peter Neushul


A definitive and highly readable history of surfing and the cultural, political, economic, and environmental consequences of its evolution from a sport of Hawaiian kings and queens to a billion-dollar worldwide industry

Despite its rebellious, outlaw reputation, or perhaps because of it, surfing occupies a central place in the American - and global - imagination, embodying the tension between romantic counterculture ideals and middle-class values, between an individualistic communion with nature and a growing commitment to commerce and technology. In examining the enduring widespread appeal of surfing in both myth and reality, The World in the Curl offers a fresh angle on the remarkable rise of the sport and its influence on modern life.

Drawing on Peter Westwick and Peter Neushul's expertise as historians of science and technology, the environment, and the Cold War, as well as decades of experience as surfers themselves, The World in the Curl brings alive the colorful history of surfing by drawing readers into the forces that fueled the sport's expansion: colonialism, the military-industrial complex, globalization, capitalism, environmental engineering, and race and gender roles. In an engaging and provocative narrative history - from the spread of surfing to the United States, to the development of surf culture, to the reintroduction of women into the sport, to big wave frontiers - the authors draw an indelible portrait of surfing and surfers as actors on the global stage.


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"Los Angeles Times" Bestseller "The authors promise an intelligent guide to surfing. And they have delivered one... The book is a serious compendium of historical developments in the sport, from its earliest known roots in Hawaii to today. Westwick and Neushul bring an academic rigor to the topic, backed up with an impressive review of the literature from the archives of surf magazines and "The Times" to books, films and historical records."- "Los Angeles Times" "The authors are studious, meticulous and logical....The 400-plus-page book tracks the strange, cultish practice of riding an oblong floatation device on the surface of a moving wave. It ranges from its ancient Polynesian roots to modern competitions, mechanized wave-pools, and international T-shier corporations, placing the pastime in larger historical context." -"Wall Street Journal" "Peter Westwick and Peter Neushul trace surfing from its ancient Polynesian roots to its current incarnation as a 'global commercial and cultural phenomenon.' Along the way, they look at the connections between surfing and, among other things, colonialism, technology, Hollywood, advertising, fashion, real estate development, pollution, climate change -- even Islamic fundamentalism...The result is provocative and highly entertaining [and] the authors skillfully debunk some of the myths that have grown up around the sport." -"Washington Post" "The great thing about Peter Westwick and Peter Neushul's new book, "The World in the Curl," is that they explore all the ways surfing has been influenced by--and has influenced--colonialism, war, capitalist industry, and other outside historical forces." - "Daily Beast""Surfers will be stoked to read "The World in the Curl..."Ambitious and compelling."-"Boom: A Journal of California ""A lively coverage recommended for sports and sociology collections alike, which delves into topics most surfing histories don't begin to probe."-"Midwest Book Revie

PETER WESTWICK is an assistant research professor of history at the University of Southern California, the director of the Aerospace History Project at the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West, and the author or editor of three books. PETER NEUSHUL is a visiting senior associate researcher in the Department of History at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He has written extensively on defense industries, history of oceanography, and on environmental history.

General Fields

  • : 9780307719485
  • : Crown/Archetype
  • : Crown
  • : 0.657709
  • : July 2013
  • : 237mm X 166mm X 34mm
  • : United States
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Peter Westwick; Peter Neushul
  • : Hardback
  • : English
  • : 797.32
  • : 416
  • : black & white illustrations