Reviews

Some extracts (not too misleading) from reviews of Stealing the Wave

‘This, Martin’s new book, looks at the schism that divided the surfing world in the Eighties when old-style big-wave riders came up against a band of fearless punks on three-fin thrusters … captivating writing … Martin waxes lyrical on boys, brawn and barrels’ Esquire Book of the Month

‘Given the intimate, testosterone-charged nature of pro surfing he had access to both men as they vied for supremacy. This book bubbles with passion for the art of catching a wave, and it celebrates two incredible, if flawed, athletes, who, inevitably, would have been lesser men were it not for the other’ The List

‘Martin’s fluid prose perfectly befits his subject … Martin’s narrative, part factual, part fanciful, sweeps the reader along like one of the awesome incoming walls of water at Waimea Bay … This is also a book which, with the dedication of a devotee, contains wave after wave of attempts to describe the endlessly fluctuating nature of water itself. It is like listening to mountaineers talking about the changing moods of Everest – a fascinating glimpse into obsession’ Mike Rowbottom, Independent

‘Gripping … Surfing emerges as a dangerous, solitary and potentially fatal obsession’ Daily Telegraph

‘An entertaining glimpse into both the seamy and sublime sides of surfing’ Sunday Telegraph

‘This tragic tale of two daredevil surfers who thought that the ocean wasn’t big enough for both of them is a classic tale of sporting rivalry … Martin builds the tension well, interspersing the surf competitions and the machismo with portraits of some of the other disparate characters living the surfing dream in Hawaii at the time’ Mike Carter, Observer

‘Andy Martin’s exploration of the gladiatorial and obsessive world of surfer dudes takes on the epic scope of the American space battle as depicted in Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff, with the conquering of the big waves of Hawaii’s North Shore substituting for breaking the sound barrier … this is a gripping insight into the mythic tradition and changing commercial face of a world where, as Foo would find out to his cost, life’s a beach and then you die’ Alan Chadwick, Metro

‘Something as compelling and carefully researched as Stealing the Wave would stand out in any field, but compared to the surprisingly feeble canon of literature the sport of surfing has produced to date, it grabs the attention like a ten-foot barrel on a two-foot day’ Roger Cox, Scotsman on Sunday

‘Martin writes with such conviction about a sport he so clearly adores that you cannot help but be caught up in the shenanigans of a group of grown men fighting over waves. He makes us care about these people, despite their rebel pretensions, faux hippie philosophy and cod spirituality, and he succeeds brilliantly at conveying the attractions of the counter-culture lifestyle’ Scotsman

‘This is gripping stuff – you feel you are riding the crest of each wave with these guys, but there is also the dark underbelly of the all-consuming desire to win that speaks volumes beyond the limitations of board surfing. This is about friendship, about the male psyche and about the commercial world we live in’ Robert Gwyn Palmer, The Resident

‘This is the surfing equivalent of Hillary and Tensing having a punch up in the death zone of Everest. Just as Touching the Void rose above climbing, so this book does with surfing. It is a tale of adventure, pride and courage, a dark portrait of the human soul which ultimately ends in the tragic death of Foo in the presence of Bradshaw. A rare treat’ Tim Kevan, Real Trave

But I really liked this one from the Newcastle Herald (Australia), because it includes the word ‘awesome’ (and this may be the first time it’s been applied to my work, and quite possibly the last):

‘This is an amazing true story, brilliantly narrated by a gifted author. One day it could easily become the screenplay for a movie that smashes box-office records (as long as Patrick Swayze isn’t cast in the lead role)… It is a story with a tragic ending, but one that I found impossible to put down. An awesome read.’

‘In pacy, witty prose, Martin captures the growing tension between these two very different men – Bradshaw the puritanical, monomaniacal muscle-man and Foo, the boyish, entrepreneurial upstart with an Eastern sense of fatalism. Surf writing can tend toward the hyperbolic, but in this case the hype is justified. As hubristic, obsessive and utterly foolhardy as these men may be, their pursuit of the “unridden realm” makes for a ripping story of mythic dimensions’ Fiona Capp, The Age

An irresistible story…A dramatic end to a dramatic story and one that Martin captures with understated grace. Sydney Morning Herald

‘Martin persuasively and vividly conveys the psychology and personalities of these outsized figures, and the gradual rapprochement of the bitter rivals becomes fascinating and oddly touching. The tragic death that claims one of the men at the end of the book has surprising emotional power…There is also much interesting information about the history of surfing and the Hawaiian culture that nurtures it, and Martin, an avid surfer himself, deftly evokes the excitement and terror of riding a 30-foot wall of water’ Kirkus Review

‘A scene insider and surfing journalist, Martin knew both men well and is at his best writing about the lure of the waves. In the end, Martin tells a gripping story of not only the intrapersonal competition between the two men but the real struggle each faced against the ocean’ Publishers Weekly

‘Lacan, Lao-Tzu, conspiracy theories, Brazilian girls, waves the size of buildings, egos the size of skyscrapers, and some damn fine writing – it’s all in here. Andy Martin’s Stealing the Wave is an intimate and dazzling tour through one of the oddest rivalries in sports – a really great ride’ Steven Kotler, author of West of Jesu

‘A soulful, insightful, and altogether thrilling glimpse into the operatic world of big-wave surfing. I couldn’t put it down’ Daniel Coyle, author of Lance Armstrong’s War

‘Andy Martin, to his immense credit, knows that surfers are misfits and accidental comics, as well as great athletes, and that is what makes Stealing the Wave such a fantastic ride. Martin is a fine writer, in peak form, having the time of his life with a subject he loves’ Matt Warshaw, author of The Encyclopedia of Surfing (and other great books)

‘Andy Martin has brought his sharp eye and ready wit to the culture of surfing, and the result is a book that is both entertaining and illuminating. Focusing on an epic rivalry between a middle-aged Texan and a young Asian-American, Stealing the Wave not only captures two vivid personalities but casts unprecedented light on a worldview and a way of life’ Jackson Lears, editor of Raritan (and chair of a seminar at the wonderful Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis)