Sweetness and Blood: Surf Book Review

sweetness and blood

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A while back, I caught the world premier of world renowned surf filmmaker, Taylor Steele's Castles in the Sky. As one of Taylor's passion projects, Castles transports you to places far and wide, expertly capturing the surf and local culture of each locale. While it's visually stunning and entertaining throughout, Taylor never manages to completely bridge the gap between surfing travel and the unique local cultures, presenting the two as almost completely disconnected entities.

Where Taylor failed, Michael Scott Moore succeeds in spades. In his book, Sweetness and Blood: How Surfing Spread from Hawaii and California to the Rest of the World with Some Unexpected Results, Moore takes a similar trot around the globe, ostensibly focusing on following the spread of surfing around the world. His journey did a whole lot more than simply bridge the gap between exotic locales and native culture. Moore embedded himself in each local culture he visited, focusing on getting to know the local surfers, and drawing out their history and lore. Throughout his journeys he has crafted an entertaining, informative, charming, inspired and heartfelt, nostalgia inducing tale of surf travel, history and legend.

With a clear understanding of the difficulties involved in tracking surfing's history (or rather, histories), Moore set out to do the near impossible – to trace surfing's diaspora from Hawaii and California to the rest of the world. His travels took him on a meandering path to Indonesia, Japan, Cuba, Sao Tome and Principe, Morroco, Israel, the United Kingdom and other points far and wide. Along the way, he abandons a purely chronological timeline in favor of bite-sized nuggets of local surfing history, lore, legend, and culture from each of the places he stays.

Moore went to great lengths to piece together local surf histories everywhere his travels took him, spending time with the old guard and new school in each locale, and building chronologies from often contradictory accounts. Relying more on oral histories than documented accounts, surfing's history and spread are more rooted in legend and myth than they are verifiable fact. The main difficulty in piecing together an accurate linear history is the fact that surfing in and of itself is largely a selfish and individualistic pursuit. Pull up to a random surf break and ask ten local surfers who the first to surf their spot was and you'll come away with ten different answers. Moore got these ten different answers in each place he visited and pieced them together to make one hell of a story.

Moore's book is inspiring, insightful and entertaining. For we deskriding dreamers, reading his tale is the next best thing to being there. Unsurprisingly, he was greeted with open arms and stoke (nearly) everywhere he traveled. Serving as a compendium of localized surf stories, the book reinforces the universal nature of stoke and the global family that surfing engenders. Like good siblings, we may fight amongst ourselves, but the blood (stoke) flowing through our veins ties us all together. It matters not how surfing spread from Polynesia to the rest of the world. What's important is the unique global family surfing's spread has created.

Hit up the link to order your copy today from Amazon.

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