Smitsonian Books, 600 Maryland Ave SW, Suite 6001, Washington, DC 20024, Usa, www.smithsonianbooks.com
In 2022 within the Smithsonian‘s 155 million artifacts and specimen, the skateboard collection numbers just over six hundred objects. And most of that only joined the collection in the last decade. This is a unlikely start for a review of „another“ book of the history of skateboarding. But, since this is not just „another“ book about the history, that some of us just know very well, or even have been a more or less active part. This is more! The first big difference is that the editors have almost no history in skateboarding and the other is – well, it‘s the Smithsonian.
This is not edited by skate-pros, but by educated curator-pros that work for the Smithsonian (a major U.S. research and educational institution based in Washington, D.C., that operates numerous museums). But, this fact should not drive anybody away, much the opposite, it should pull the interest of all. The book is basically six chapters, starting in the 60s when the American skateboard was born from a surf-offshoot-curiosity in California. Ten years later technology changes skateboarding for the first time. In the 80s it is mostly vert and street, that go along with VHS (video) and Zines. The 90s see more women getting involved in skateboarding and skateboarding not mainly happen in California but all over the states. Next up is 00‘s and it ends obviously with 2010 to present with more diversity, inclusion and skateboarding going Olympics. Each chapter starts with a introduction by Gordon and Rogers, followed by a timeline (that also includes non-skate happenings of that decade). Only this makes it very interesting, to look at the history of skateboarding thru the eyes of non-skateboarding historians. But of course there is more. Each chapter has around ten more story’s from contemporary witnesses, influential skater that have been around and some of them wrote history. They are all featured here, including Rodney Mullen, Tony Hawk, Mimi Knoop just to drop some names. And the editors are not mincing words, so here it is clearly communicated, that especially in the 80s skateboarding was male dominated, a boys club. Be it the skaters or the skateboard-industry (it is also clearly communicated that it always was about money too!). Or, fun fact, the invention of „skate-stoppers“ that are also used outside of the Smithsonian, to stop people from skating. Of course the book is not only text, there is more than 350 images of skate decks, objects and photographs from the Smithsonian collection. Great stuff to look at no matter if you are into hardware, clothing, nostalgia or graphics and of course the texts deal with the business, social, cultural and counter cultural elements too. No matter what you look for, it is all here. Having read a few books on the history of skateboarding in the past, was no problem, I had a great time and of course learned some new bits. Redundant to mention it is a high quality, hardcover (23 x 28 x 2 cm) book, great layout with excellent images. So good this book includes so many women and also queer people, hoping in the future skateboarding will be more diverse than it used to be. From now on, skaters of all age, who‘s parents or peers try to talk you out of skateboarding, because “it is for kids” or “not a serious sport” or any bull like that. Here is the book that you can give them and show them that skateboarding is a serious part of history and it most likely will not go away again. So even if you so far have never been interested, this book will address you and of course skateboarders young and old, active or retired. And it will also help enlarge the skateboard collection of the Smithsonian. 240 pages, hardcover, 35,00 $ (dolf)
[Trust # 219 April 2023]