[A] ripping profile of the surf culture on Oahu’s North Shore . . . Smith[’s] storytelling is taught . . . (Wall Street Journal)
“Chas Smith is a stone-cold original-a globe-trotting, war-reporting, motorcycle-driving, cigarette-smoking, tube-riding, fashion-obsessed international dandy with a penchant for dangerous people, places, and, most of all, prose. Welcome To Paradise, Now Go To Hell is absolutely the most entertaining surf book in years, a breathless adrenalized romp.” (Daniel Duane, author of Caught Inside, A Surfer's Year on the California Coast
“Absolutely the most entertaining surf book in years, a breathless adrenalized romp. More importantly, it’s a jaw-dropping introduction to Smith’s greatest--and most promising--literary creation, himself. This man-and this book-are both going places.” (Daniel Duane, author of Caught Inside: A Surfer's Year on the California Coast)
A vivid and somewhat disconcerting depiction of the world of surfing and its attendant problems . . . An uncommon read for those interested in surfing or those seeking a look at Hawaii from a vantage point not normally found in history books. (Library Journal)
A hip exposé of Hawaii’s North Shore surfing culture . . . entertains, while superior reporting informs and illuminates much about the surf industry’s peculiar machinations, its cavalcade of sun-bleached heroes and the troubled history of Hawaii itself . . . effortlessly shifting from the profound to the profane. (Kirkus)
A mix of reportage and gonzo journalism…. [with] trenchant…astute observations…. If Hunter S. Thompson circa Hell’s Angels merged with a fashion critic to write about surfing for Maxim, the result might be similar. (Publishers Weekly)
Smith grabs us with his first sentence [with] this exciting and revelatory book (Booklist)
A book of real literary style and grace . . . gleefully mischievous . . . handles like a ‘54 Porsche: smooth, glamorous, and totally out of control. (Flaunt)
Made me think hard about the North Shore . . . To the best of my knowledge, nothing like it exists.” (The Inertia)
Smith doesn’t simply stand in judgment. He loves the world of the North Shore, and he hates it. With gleeful defiance and feral wit, he harnesses his ambivalence to fuel this compulsive, wild ride of a book. (Sydney Morning Herald, Pick of the Week)
A wild and unflinching look at the adrenalin-soaked world of surfing. (Melbourne Herald Sun)
For two months every winter, when Pacific storms make landfall, Oahu's paradisical North Shore turns into a fiery hell. Its normal population of sixteen thousand more than triples and this explosion of mainlanders, Brazilians, Australians, and Europeans creates one of the most combustible milieus on earth. Waves, like gold and oil, are a limited resource and, as such, are fiercely fought over by the visiting hordes, the surf industry, other Hawaiian islanders, and North Shore residents. The otherwise sleepy North Shore becomes a lawless, violent, drug-addled, and adrenaline-soaked mecca.
It takes uniquely fearless men to paddle into thirty-foot waves breaking over a razor-sharp reef hidden beneath three feet of water. Death and maiming are regular occurrences during North Shore winters. Yet when the sun dips, the fearless become truly scared. You see, the ocean has rules. The men who haunt the land do not. And so they whisper about helter-skelter violence dished out by larger-than-life Hawaiians. They whisper about being choked, slapped, and bloodied for breaking unspoken codes of conduct. About the protection money extracted from the surf brands that want to hold their contests on the North Shore. About drug running, fights, and maybe even murders. And then they return to multimillion-dollar beachfront homes and drown their anxiety with cocaine and booze. But they know they are not safe. Because no one is ever safe here.
The surf world is far more volatile and complex than outsiders know or popular depictions would have us believe, and the North Shore during winter is its most extreme representation. It is downright dangerous but also exhilarating, and this story paints a true picture of what it feels like to be in the middle of it all. It is both a breathtaking and wildly funny tale of beauty, wickedness, and the unyielding allure of ocean waves in all their glory.