Barbarian Days

A Surfing Life

William Finnegan,

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life
 
 
**Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Autobiography**

“Reading this guy on the subject of waves and water is like reading Hemingway on bullfighting; William Burroughs on controlled substances; Updike on adultery. . . . a coming-of-age story, seen through the gloss resin coat of a surfboard.”—Sports Illustrated

Included in President Obama’s 2016 Summer Reading List 

 
Barbarian Days is William Finnegan’s memoir of an obsession, a complex enchantment. Surfing only looks like a sport. To initiates, it is something else: a beautiful addiction, a demanding course of study, a morally dangerous pastime, a way of life. 
 
Raised in California and Hawaii, Finnegan started surfing as a child. He has chased waves all over the world, wandering for years through the South Pacific, Australia, Asia, Africa. A bookish boy, and then an excessively adventurous young man, he went on to become a distinguished writer and war reporter. Barbarian Days takes us deep into unfamiliar worlds, some of them right under our noses—off the coasts of New York and San Francisco. It immerses the reader in the edgy camaraderie of close male friendships forged in challenging waves.
 
Finnegan shares stories of life in a whites-only gang in a tough school in Honolulu. He shows us a world turned upside down for kids and adults alike by the social upheavals of the 1960s. He details the intricacies of famous waves and his own apprenticeships to them. Youthful folly—he drops LSD while riding huge Honolua Bay, on Maui—is served up with rueful humor. As Finnegan’s travels take him ever farther afield, he discovers the picturesque simplicity of a Samoan fishing village, dissects the sexual politics of Tongan interactions with Americans and Japanese, and navigates the Indonesian black market while nearly succumbing to malaria. Throughout, he surfs, carrying readers with him on rides of harrowing, unprecedented lucidity.
 
Barbarian Days is an old-school adventure story, an intellectual autobiography, a social history, a literary road movie, and an extraordinary exploration of the gradual mastering of an exacting, little-understood art.
 
Praise for Barbarian Days:
 
“Without a doubt, the finest surf book I’ve ever read . . . But on a more fundamental level, Barbarian Days offers a clear-eyed vision of American boyhood. Like Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild, it is a sympathetic examination of what happens when literary ideas of freedom and purity take hold of a young mind and fling his body out into the far reaches of the world.”—The New York Times Magazine
 
“Incandescent . . . I’d sooner press this book upon on a nonsurfer, in part because nothing I’ve read so accurately describes the feeling of being stoked or the despair of being held under. . . . [But] it’s also about a writer’s life and, even more generally, a quester’s life, more carefully observed and precisely rendered than any I’ve read in a long time.”—Los Angeles Times


  • ;
  • ISBN:
  • Edition:
  • Title:
  • Series:
  • Author:
  • Imprint:
  • Language:

In The Press


About The Author


Customer Reviews

Verified Buyer

Read online

If you’re using a PC or Mac you can read this ebook online in a web browser, without downloading anything or installing software.

Download file formats

This ebook is available in file types:

This ebook is available in:

After you've bought this ebook, you can choose to download either the PDF version or the ePub, or both.

DRM Free

The publisher has supplied this book in DRM Free form with digital watermarking.

Required software

You can read this eBook on any device that supports DRM-free EPUB or DRM-free PDF format.

Digital Rights Management (DRM)

The publisher has supplied this book in encrypted form, which means that you need to install free software in order to unlock and read it.

Required software

To read this ebook on a mobile device (phone or tablet) you'll need to install one of these free apps:

To download and read this eBook on a PC or Mac:

  • Adobe Digital Editions (This is a free app specially developed for eBooks. It's not the same as Adobe Reader, which you probably already have on your computer.)

Limits on printing and copying

The publisher has set limits on how much of this ebook you may print or copy. See details.

  • {{ format_drm_information.format_name }} unrestricted {{ format_drm_information.format_name }} {{format_drm_information.page_percent}}% pages every day{{format_drm_information.interval}} days {{ format_drm_information.format_name }} off
Read Aloud
  • {{ read_aloud_information.format_name }} on {{ read_aloud_information.format_name }} off
Subject categories
  •  > 
ISBNs