Chas SmithApr 13, 2023
Reports from Hell
Rare Bird Books 2020
While now a prominent and controversial surf journalist, Chas Smith started his career as a war correspondent in the Middle East. Obsessed with Joan Didion, but really working in the tradition of Hunter S. Thompson, he embarked on a series of often ill-fated reporting trips to Yemen and Lebanon. Smith’s adventures ranged from discovering new surfing beaches on the Arabian Peninsula to being kidnapped by Hezbollah. His experiences are chronicled in Reports from Hell with his trademark wry, self-effacing, and ironic, but also insightful, informed, and even touching, prose. Smith’s previous books include Welcome to Paradise, Now Go to Hell: A True Story of Violence, Corruption, and the Soul of Surfing and Cocaine + Surfing: A Sordid History of Surfing's Greatest Love Affair. In 2022, he published Blessed Are the Bank Robbers: The True Adventures of an Evangelical Outlaw, a family history of his Bible preaching and bank robbing uncle.
Michael G. Vann is a professor of world history at California State University, Sacramento. A specialist in imperialism and the Cold War in Southeast Asia, he is the author of The Great Hanoi Rat Hunt: Empires, Disease, and Modernity in French Colonial Vietnam (Oxford University Press, 2018). When he’s not reading or talking about new books with smart people, Mike can be found surfing in Santa Cruz, California.