Having read some of Matt Warshaw's other work (mostly shorts and Maverick's: The Story of Big Wave Surfing)I already knew that I liked his writing style. Being an aging surfer and having read a good bit of both historic and modern surf literature, I wasn't sure if a comphrehensive HOS would be able to hold my attention. Simply put, it did, and then some. I was generally familiar with a good bit of the content from my disjointed readings of the past. There is enough new stuff and some surprises in the old stuff, more than enough, and written in a manner that makes it an enjoyable and refreshing cover to cover read.
Having a degree in history, an ex-pro surfer, having established the most extensive surf database anywhere in existence, as well as having recently completed The Encyclopedia Of Surfing, Matt is unquestionably the authority on the subject, uniquely qualified to write the history of surfing. Yes, as a reviewer noted there is some "opinion" to be found here and there, not a lot, but it is clearly such and I found it to be more insightful in nature, an "insider's" perspective, not opinion masquerading as fact.
As a surfer of course I'm obviously biased to the subject, but I do agree that non surfers with any interest what-so-ever in surf history or culture should find this to be the best, most comphrehensive and enjoyable single source read available today on surfing.
The bottom line is: if you are a grom or an old surfer you really should give this a read regardless of how you come by it. Get it from your local library, borrow it from a bro, steal it. Just kidding, don't steal- we're finally getting a little main stream respect these days. I found the Amazon price to be the best. It is pretty beefy. If you buy it and don't like it, you've still got one hell of a door stop.