The World in the Curl

An Unconventional History of Surfing

Publisher: Crown

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.

From the Hardcover edition.


The World in the Curl is the most scholarly and comprehensive history of the sport born on the waves of Hawaii Surfing” – Fred Hemmings, Hawaii's 1968 World Champion surfer and a founding father of Pro Surfing

“Although not often recognized as such, the ocean is by far the planet’s largest wilderness.  Surfing takes place at a frontier of civilization.  Peter Westwick and Peter Neushul make their book come alive because they have walked (and swum!) the talk.  It’s an inside, honest, sometimes painful, story.  Surfing provides the matrix, but there is broader and deeper dimension to this book.  It’s a cultural, environmental, and sociological history of the interface between our species and the edge of the continents.” – Dr. Roderick Frazier Nash, Professor Emeritus of History and Environmental Studies at the University of California Santa Barbara and author of Wilderness and the American Mind

Surfing rides the wave of history in Peter Westwick and Peter Neushul's The World In The Curl.  Through deeply researched and engagingly told tales from the Polynesian settlement of Hawaii to today's global surf industry Westwick and Neushul take us into the impact zone where surfing and society collide and cultures are transformed.  This book is as epic, in its way, as a big day at Mavericks.  Read it for its context, dig it for its stoke.  –David Helvarg, author of The Golden Shore - California's Love Affair with the Sea

From the Hardcover edition.