Stealing the Wave
The Epic Struggle Between Ken Bradshaw and Mark Foo
By Andy Martin
(Bloomsbury USA, Hardcover, 9781596913806, 256pp.)
Publication Date: May 29, 2007
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Like Norman Mailer's The Fight, this gripping page-turner from journalist Andy Martin chronicles a classic duel between two phenomenal and sharply contrasting athletes. In the mid-80s, Ken Bradshaw and Mark Foo took big-wave surfing's spiritual home, Waimea Bay on Hawaii's legendary North Shore, and in their relentless quest for supremacy turned it into an arena of personal combat. Bradshaw was in pole-position. The muscular, square-jawed Texan already commanded respect through a combination of strength, gritty determination, and infamous temper - he was known to bite chunks out of fellow surfers' boards whenever he felt disrespected in the water. Mark Foo was the new kid on the block, and his polar opposite. The icon of the next generation, openly challenging the old guard, this slim Chinese-American wowed Waimea's winter crowds with his prowess, speed, moves, looks, and thirst for the biggest waves. But Foo's talent for self-marketing was anathema to surfing veterans and purists, and above all to Bradshaw. Foo was driving surfing in a new, commercial direction, while Bradshaw saw himself as the heir and guardian of a great tradition. And then one fine day Foo stole a wave from right under Bradshaw's nose, arousing his wrath, and firing up a feud that would span a decade.
Their unforgiving rivalry would ultimately evolve into a grudging mutual admiration which was, however, doomed to end in death on a giant swell at Maverick's, just south of San Francisco, on Christmas Eve of 1994. Stealing the Wave is the intimate history of the conflict between two remarkable men that gets to the heart of what it means to compete, and examines what happens when competition, passion and belief go too far.
Andy Martin was born in London, teaches in Cambridge and New York, and learned to surf on the west coast of Australia. He is the author of Walking on Water, and has written about Hawaii for Times (London), the Independent on Sunday, and the Telegraph.
"A soulful, insightful, and altogether thrilling glimpse into the operatic world of big-wave surfing. I couldn't put it down."--Dan Coyle, author of the New York Times bestseller Lance Armstrong
“For all you surfers out there: the best of [this summer's surfing books] is Stealing the Wave...[an] insightful tale.” —Orlando Sentinel
“The movie-ready tale of big wave surfing's most famously complicated friendship...the friendship and intense rivalry between Bradshaw and the late Foo is a great tale for any surfing fan.” —Orange County Register
"What better for summer reading than the story of two surfers who dominated the sport in the 1980s and early 1990s? Bradshaw and Foo really were rivals -- so much so that their competition turned very dark indeed. Martin [is] a fine storyteller, quite talented enough to raise this book beyond entertainment and into the realm of the truly haunting."—Kansas City Star
“Surf rivalries are generally rather tame affairs, but consider...the war between Ken Bradshaw and Mark Foo, as told in Andy Martin's new book, ''Stealing the Wave'' (Bloomsbury, $24.95)...It makes charging the mound seem tame by comparison...And as [Martin] pushes toward the story's tragic finale...[he] manages to make the two men seem like they're battling not only for the hearts and minds of Brazilian groupies but for the fate of big-wave surfing itself. When hate seeps through the sunbaked haze of Hawaii, it is something truly majestic to behold.”—New York Times “Play”
“Jon Krakauer's 1995 article on Mark Foo in Outside was the Into Thin Air of surf stories: Foo, a famed big-wave surfer, was killed in late 1994 while taking his first runs on the Maverick's break off Northern California's coast. Here, Martin elevates that tragedy to near mythological proportions...In lush, dramatic terms, he recounts...the duo's two decades of competition on Hawaii's intense North Shore...surf enthusiasts and wannabes alike will probably get sucked in.” —Entertainment Weekly
"Surfing's answer to Ali vs. Foreman...Andy Martin provides a history of contemporary big-wave surfing embedded within a thrilling account of its two most intense competitors…this is the summer sports narrative to beat.” —Very Short List.com
“A scene insider and surfing journalist, Martin...is at his best writing about the lure of the waves...Martin tells a gripping story of not only the intrapersonal competition between the two men but the real struggle each faced against the ocean.” —Publisher’s Weekly
“Andy Martin's Stealing the Wave is an absorbing story of great personalities and nasty politics in the real Hawaii--a place utterly unlike, and much more interesting than, the tourist myth. He writes with verve, pace, and wit. Not to be missed.” —Professor Nicholas Thomas, Cambridge University, author of Cook: the Extraordinary Voyages of Captain James Cook
“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
“Martin celebrates the lives of both men...Martin traces their surfing careers, shows how these two very different men were joined together by their passion for their sport, how their mutual respect and admiration made them friends, despite their outward rivalry. A story not just about surfing, but also about friendship, perseverance, and passion.”—Booklist