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In Search of Captain Zero: A Surfer's Road Trip Beyond the End of the Road Paperback


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In Search of Captain Zero: A Surfer's Road Trip Beyond the End of the Road + Cosmic Banditos + Kook: What Surfing Taught Me About Love, Life, and Catching the Perfect Wave
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Tarcher (September 16, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585421774
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585421770
  • Product Dimensions: 2.4 x 3.6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,230 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In 1966, Allan Weisbecker "made a Manhattan run from the landlocked suburbs" to take in a siren-song movie called The Endless Summer, a documentary that depicted the carefree life of two beach bums who roamed the world in quest of the perfect wave. Weisbecker was hooked, and he became a hardcore wave rider, a fixture on the Long Island surf scene. With a friend, Christopher, he also undertook illegal ways to finance his passion, transporting drugs from exotic countries, a business only briefly interrupted when Christopher went off to Vietnam. There he took fire and came home scarred; something in him changed, and one day he simply vanished.

Weisbecker's book, a sort of gonzo detective story blended with travelogue and peppered with hang-10 jargon, does many things, all of them very well indeed. It offers up a vision of innocent times brought to ruin by war and drugs; it recounts his search for his lost friend, whose life had gone from bad to worse far away from home; and it affords a look inside the strange culture of surfing, whose masters "understood, in a visceral and soulful and inexpressible way, the machinations of the sea, and, by subtle inference, the universe at large."

Full of regret and exhilaration, Weisbecker's memoir is a fine chronicle of a dream gone sour and a friendship redeemed. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

The foundation of Weisbecker's book packing all of his belongings and his dog into a camper and heading for Central America in search of surf and self, a couple of years short of his 50th birthday has all the makings of a trite, midlife crisis memoir. But the author's flair for describing natural beauty, and his strong sense of narrative rhythm and uncompromising candor, make for a lovely personal reflection that mixes the right amount of dreamy meditation with page-turning allure. Weisbecker (Cosmic Banditos) leaves his Long Island home in search of his childhood friend Christopher, who undertook a similar journey five years earlier and whose only correspondence has been a cryptic postcard signed "Captain Zero." Interspersed in Weisbecker's reports of the people he meets and his neatly composed descriptions of surfing are stories from his past that pace the book, including a hilarious account involving Christopher, an 80-foot banana boat, 10 tons of Colombian marijuana and the front yard of an unsuspecting homeowner on the Housatonic River. Weisbecker clearly delights in storytelling as much as he enjoys language itself, though his writing can get top-heavy; he describes a friend's pest problem as "a zoomorphically motile disarrangement of darting mini-saurians along with fist-sized arachnids and their flossy nets." But usually his imaginative power is better spent, as when he describes an approaching thunderstorm: "The air is charged, buzzing and tingly with ionic discharge seeking ground; then with blinding, brittle bolts that air erupts, illuminating like overexposed photographs the landscape and adjoining sea." Such imagery with a balance of pathos and humor make Weisbecker's account very worthwhile reading.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

The best surf book i have ever read!
Gregory Keenan
This book is written by one of the masters of adventure and gives great insight on surfing, journeys, danger and life.
MD
If you're looking for both a hilarious and thoughtful read I highly recommend this book.
David T Wootten

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Allan Weisbecker on February 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As the author of this book i can tell you it's available in soft cover: amazon has its head up its arse in not listing it. i've tried contacting them but i only get a boilerplate replies that make no sense. as far as i can tell, there are no human beings involved with amazon.

buy from your local bookstore anyway.

allan weisbecker

hey amazon, in the unlikely event that an actual human reads this:how about listing the softcover, which IS IN PRINT from Penguin. then you can cancel this cranky review.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Theo Logos on July 3, 2004
Format: Paperback
First let me say that I have never surfed, and other than watching Point Break, am ignorant of surfing culture. Likewise, I have never journeyed south of the border, and I certainly never was an international drug smuggler (though I have been known to inhale). That said, Mr. Weisbecker's writing put me right there, and made me feel that I was participating in these adventures. He vividly and viscerally described surfing to the point that I felt the rush, and almost tasted salt water. His recreation of a sense of place when describing Mexico and Central America reminded me of Mark Twain's best travel writing. And his recollections of his outrageous adventures in his youthful bandito smuggling days made me cry from laughing.(Even if these tales are exaggerated, as well they may be, only someone who knows what he is talking about could exaggerate so effectively.)
Beyond all the surfing, adventuring on the edge, and bandito hilarity, this book has a strong undercurrent of melancholy, a deep sadness that adds depth and realism to this rollicking adventure. Someone has complained that this book is just about a self-indulgent mid-life crisis. The author himself has admitted as much in his book. Yet the emotions and circumstances that bring a man to what we have chosen to call "mid-life crisis" are real, and nearly universal. Weibecker's genius is in the brutal honesty in which he communicates his own ambiguous emotional turmoil. Past a certain age, we all must find a way to live with the choices that we have made, and the bridges that we have burned, and that, at its core, is the heart of this book.
In Search of Captain Zero is engrossing, invigorating, hilarious, and sad. It is a swift read, and I was sorry when it was over. All in all, it is more than the sum of its parts, and I highly recommend it.

Theo Logos
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By David T Wootten on June 22, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book on an impulse after reading some of the reviews on this site and it thoroughly surpassed my expectations. Weisbecker strikes the perfect note between the description of his adventure, reflections on his life and some absolutely hilarious and jaw dropping stories about his past endeavours in drug trafficking. I found myself getting lulled into his reflections in a very peaceful way then suddenly breaking out in laughter at his past adventures. At one point, I shook my head at how much this guy has actually lived. I've never surfed in my life and wouldn't be inclined to buy a "surfing" book however I found this part of his story to be really entertaining and completely in line with the rest of the story. In fact, it makes you want to get out a surfboard and give it a try.
If you're looking for both a hilarious and thoughtful read I highly recommend this book.
Also, as someone who currently lives in Mexico and who has lived in Latin America for 6 years I found his take on the people/country to be thankfully devoid of the typical generalizations and stereotypes associated with the area.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By K. Mccandless on January 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
Here's a little hint for publishers. If you have a non-fiction book that's all about the search for a long lost friend, don't reveal the ending in a critic's blurb on the back cover. At least on the softcover edition I just got, I learned all about what happened to Christopher when I was on about, oh, page 15.

Other than that, this was a great read. Whether you're into surfing or travel books, In Search of Captain Zero will hold you from start to finish.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By L. Bergman on November 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
I stumbled onto this book and author by chance and months now after reading this book I feel like I am still on a journey that started the day I flipped opened the cover and started reading. This past spring I gave my second shot at surfing and this time it really stuck! That passion and stoke led me to find surf related books and I quickly found In Search of Captain Zero, Allan Weisbecker's website and other books. "Zero" is a surfer's journey and if you are looking for that kind of narrative-its certainly there amidst these pages. If you surf or even just love the ocean, his descriptions of surf sessions are amazing. However, much more is weaved into this journey as Weisbecker opens himself for all to see- the good, the bad and the ugly. Imagine Steinbeck's - Travels with Charley taking place in central america with a surfer's bent, substitute in some tequilla, and give it a whole lot more edge to the story. I found myself haunted by some of what this book said about myself, about friendships, and my ever present feelings of wanderlust. This is much different from Cosmic Banditos, but if you want something that sort of blends that pace with In Search of Captain Zero you really need to find his latest book "Can't You Get Along With Anyone?" published by Humdrumming in the UK. I give this 5 stars. It will always be one of my favorites.....
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