Synopses & Reviews
A thousand years after Hawaiians first paddled long boards into the ocean, modern wave riders continued the practice and surfing as we know it was born. Pacific Passages brings together four centuries of writing about surfing, the most comprehensive collection of perspectives on the history and culture of a sport that has recently been transformed into a global industry. Included are Hawaiian legends and chants, journals of the first Western explorers to the South Pacific, and travel narratives of missionaries and luminaries such as Herman Melville, Mark Twain, and Jack London. Tom Wolfe, William Finnegan, Susan Orlean, and Bob Shacochis offer contemporary observations on a cultural phenomenon that extends from the beaches of Tahiti to the financial markets of Wall Street. Pacific Passages allows readers to trace the historical transformation of surfing's image through the centuries: from Polynesian myths of love to the first Western accounts of an exotic amusement that presented nothing but Horror & Destruction to modern representations of surfing as a character-building activity and the quintessential expression of disaffected youth. Writers and cultural critics explore the sport's most recent trends, revealing how surfing impacts some of today's most pressing social concerns: technology, competition, gender, heritage, and globalism.