Waterman: The Life and Times of Duke Kahanamoku

by David DavisProductImageHandler.ashx
University of Nebraska Press, 2015

Waterman is the first comprehensive biography of Duke Kahanamoku (1890–1968): swimmer, surfer, Olympic gold medalist, Hawaiian icon, and waterman. Kahanamoku become America’s first superstar Olympic swimmer. He was at the top of the world rankings for more than a decade; his rivalry with Johnny Weissmuller transformed competitive swimming from an insignificant sideshow into a headliner event. Kahanamoku used his Olympic renown to introduce the sport of surfing, an activity unknown outside the Hawaiian Islands, to the world. Kahanamoku’s connection to his homeland was equally important. Born when Hawai‘i was an independent kingdom, he served as the sheriff of Honolulu during the attack on Pearl Harbor and World War II, and as a globetrotting “Ambassador of Aloha” afterward. He died shortly after Hawai‘i became a state. (Adapted from the publisher’s website.)

David Davis is the author of three books on sports history. His work has appeared in anthologies including The Best American Sports Writing.