cover image Fierce Heart: The Story of Makaha and the Soul of Hawaiian Surfing

Fierce Heart: The Story of Makaha and the Soul of Hawaiian Surfing

Stuart Holmes Coleman, Author . St. Martin's $24.95 (320p) ISB

Freelance writer Coleman (Eddie Would Go ) examines the history of surfing in Hawaii through the lens of Makaha, an isolated town on the west coast of Oahu. Makaha is the heart and soul of the title, but those words also apply to the men and women whose stories give life to the town. Chief among them is Richard “Buffalo” Keaulana, an accomplished waterman of full-blood Hawaiian descent. Born in 1934, Keaulana grew up during the evolution of surfing from an obscure ritual in a far-flung corner of the American empire to an international phenomenon. For Coleman, Keaulana embodies the culture that produced the first longboard and the elusive concept of aloha. Coleman also tells the story of the women's surfing pioneer, Rell Sunn; the Rabelaisian Hawaiian singer and songwriter Israel Kamakawiwo'ole; and the first voyage of the Hokule'a, a replica of traditional Polynesian voyaging canoes. Coleman tends to romanticize his subjects (“Looking into the deep brown eyes of Brian Keaulana is like seeing the soul of Makaha”) and the narrative doesn't always come together, yet his unquestioning embrace of all things Hawaiian is infectious, and his subtle charm will please all true believers in the soul of surfing. (May)