Fact-packed, devoid of filler and heavy on action.” That’s how the Long Beach Press-Telegram described David Haldane’s award-winning memoir, Nazis & Nudists. A heartfelt, sometimes humorous, and always entertaining romp through the American counterculture of the 60s and 70s, the book tells of journalist Haldane’s long quest for a place to call home which, for him, ended up being on a remote Philippine island in the arms of a dark-haired young woman who, as he says in the dedication, “came from a small island to make my life large.” The book was a finalist in two categories of the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and the 2017 McGrath House Independent Book Awards, as well as a runner-up in the 2016 Maxy Awards.
This is a work of nonfiction. As a series of autobiographical essays loosely comprising a memoir, it is highly subjective and prone to the vagaries of time and memory. But it is also the work of a journalist who, over many years of practicing that craft, has fancied himself possessed of a mind and pen honed into objective instruments of observation. Perhaps you can appreciate the challenge: how to integrate those two very distinct – and sometimes conflicting – voices. I don’t claim to have accomplished that here. What I do hope, however, is to have provided an entertaining and informative tour of a span of time important both in our history and in my life.
It was an era pregnant with expectation and the intoxicating excitement of a new age to come. The fact that the new age never arrived in no way lessens the period’s impact on those who experienced it or those who came after, though for many the intoxication led to a kind of madness. For me, the late 1960s and early 1970s was a formative time, a time that made me what I am today and still looms large in my consciousness. This is the story, not only of those times, but of what came later, of a personal struggle – shared by many of my generation – to find extrication from faraway and strange environs of the heart to somewhere resembling home.
It was a lifelong search that led through many alien pastures ending, in my case anyway, in an unexpected and exotic place of peace. Wherever possible I have confirmed memory with other sources, sometimes including my own published and unpublished writings from the era in question. In some instances, I have telescoped events and revised sequences for dramatic effect. In most cases, I have used people’s real names. When that proved impossible, due to the failings of memory or research, I have employed pseudonyms. To those in both categories, I beg forgiveness.
Finally, in borrowing from my own past works I have on occasion borrowed liberally. Thus portions of this book are based on material originally published in different form in the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times Magazine, Berkeley BARB, Islands, Orange Coast, Links, Aqua and Chicken Soup for the Single’s Soul. In the highly unlikely event that anyone experiences déjà vu, I apologize.
David Haldane October, 2015