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The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and…

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the… (2013)

by Daniel James Brown, George Yeoman Pocock (Contributor)

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1,320805,899 (4.3)108
  1. 31
    Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand (terran)
    terran: Both books deal with participants in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin and with personal stories of individuals growing up in that time period. Both are incredible true stories that read like fiction.
  2. 00
    Bucking the Sun by Ivan Doig (terran)
    terran: Even though Doig's book is fiction, it deals with people struggling to make a living during the Great Depression. Both books deal with the construction of massive public works that employed thousands. (Hoover Dam and Fort Peck Dam)

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» See also 108 mentions

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Wonderful story. Overcoming hardship, teamwork, historical perspective and winning ( )
  Doondeck | Oct 30, 2015 |
Really good, with a great ending. Started a bit slow, especially if you know nothing about crew racing. Interesting overlap with my previously read book, the one about Zamperini (title?) ( )
  rrbritt53 | Oct 27, 2015 |
I was pleasantly surprised by how totally engrossing this book proved to be. I wasn't expecting a story about a crew team from the 1930's to be all that interesting but I found myself flying through the pages after I got past the first 50. It's a history book but its also about perseverance, grit, humbleness, and teamwork. Having spent my teen and college years in Washington State it was particularly enlightening to see towns like Sequim and Spokane and Seattle through the eyes of a different teen who was living through the Great Depression. Then you tie in the brotherhood of an athletic team and then drop it on the world stage of the 1936 Nazi Olympics, all in a narrative storytelling format. This isn't the only way to learn about historical events but it does seem to be the most entertaining. If you're feeling sorry for yourself and you need a kick in the pants, try The Boys in the Boat for a motivating push. ( )
  BenjaminHahn | Oct 17, 2015 |
I could care less about rowing or the struggles of the team positioned for the 1936 Olympics endured. However, from beginning to end, this was a fascinating read. The reader is instantly afforded the ability to picture perfectly what the author describes, from scenery to emotion. The struggles, the heartaches, successes and lives of each person involved in this story were illuminating and inspirational. ( )
  Sovranty | Oct 15, 2015 |
The Short of It:

Nine young men from the University Washington’s rowing team go up against all odds to compete in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

The Rest of It:

A member from my book club said it best.

"It’s not a story about the 1936 Berlin Olympics, but the journey these young men took to get there."

Most of the book centers around Joe Rantz. As it turns out, his daughter lived next door to the author and approached him about documenting her father’s story. After sitting down with him, it was obvious to Brown that Joe’s story had to be told.

Joe came from a humble home. His mother died when he was fairly young. His father remarried a very young woman. A woman who did not take a liking to Joe. Probably because he was a constant reminder of his father’s first wife. Needless to say, the father packs up his bride and Joe’s other siblings and eventually leaves Joe to fend for himself.

As a child, Joe realized that in order to survive, he’d have to live off the land. He had shelter but food was something he never had enough of. When he got old enough to work and go to college, he found himself at the University of Washington’s shell house and decided to go out for the rowing team.

There, he met some notable people. Al Ulbrickson, his relentless coach and George Pocock, who designed the racing shells that Joe spent so much time in. Together, these two men had quite an impact on Joe. He already possessed a good work ethic, but the respect that he had for these two men was evident and it touched everything he did.

Much of the story is how they got to the Olympics and what they had to overcome to get there. There were financial struggles for most of the boys. They didn’t have the money that their East Coast counterparts had. They battled illness, too. Almost to the point of death. The logistics of who could be in the boat and where, was a constant challenge for the coaches. They would re-position the boys daily in an attempt to find the perfect combination. It was grueling and it kept all of the boys on their toes, knowing that they could get cut at anytime.

The author did an excellent job of introducing the terminology without being too technical. I had no trouble following along. Although I did want to know more about the Berlin Olympics, the author does not spend much time on that subject. You should know this up front.

That said, I really enjoyed it. The members of my book club seemed to enjoy it too. There is plenty to talk about between the sport itself, the coaching style, the personal lives of these young men and what was going on in the world at the time. I don’t read much non-fiction but this one was a nice surprise.

Book Chatter For more reviews, visit my blog: Book Chatter. ( )
  tibobi | Oct 14, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 80 (next | show all)
In “The Boys on the Boat,” Daniel James Brown tells the astonishing story of the UW’s 1936 eight-oar varsity crew and its rise from obscurity to fame, drawing on interviews with the surviving members of the team and their diaries, journals and photographs. A writer and former writing teacher at Stanford and San Diego, Brown lives outside of Seattle, where one of his elderly neighbors harbored a history Brown never imagined: he was Joe Rantz, one of the members of the iconic UW 1936 crew.
[Daniel James] Brown's book juxtaposes the coming together of the Washington crew team against the Nazis' preparations for the [1936 Berlin Olympic] Games, weaving together a history that feels both intimately personal and weighty in its larger historical implications. This book has already been bought for cinematic development, and it's easy to see why: When Brown, a Seattle-based nonfiction writer, describes a race, you feel the splash as the oars slice the water, the burning in the young men's muscles and the incredible drive that propelled these rowers to glory.
added by sgump | editSmithsonian, Chloë Schama (Jun 1, 2013)

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Daniel James Brownprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pocock, George YeomanContributormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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It's a great art, is rowing. It's the finest art there is. It's a symphony of motion. And when you're rowing well, why it's nearing perfection. And when you near perfection, you're touching the Divine. It touches the you of you. Which is your soul. - George Yeoman Pocock
(But I desire and I long every day to go home and to look upon the day of my return . . . for already I have suffered and labored at so many things on the waves.) - Homer
For Gordon Adam Chuck Day Don Hume George "Shorty" Hunt Jim "Stub" McMillin Bob Moch Roger Morris Joe Rantz John White Jr. and all those other bright, shining boys of the 1930s - our fathers, our grandfathers, our uncles, our old friends
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(Prologue) This book was born on a cold, drizzly, late spring day when I clambered over the split-rail cedar fence that surrounds my pasture and made my way through wet woods to the modest frame house where Joe Rantz lay dying.
Monday, October 9, 1933, began as a gray day in Seattle.
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Brown quotes so extensively from George Pocock's diaries and letters, that I consider Pocock to be a contributor to the book. His wisdom helps to make this one memorable and deeply moving.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 067002581X, Hardcover)

For readers of Laura Hillenbrand's Seabiscuit and Unbroken, the dramatic story of the American rowing team that stunned the world at Hitler's 1936 Berlin Olympics

Daniel James Brown’s robust book tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans. The sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the boys defeated elite rivals first from eastern and British universities and finally the German crew rowing for Adolf Hitler in the Olympic games in Berlin, 1936.

The emotional heart of the story lies with one rower, Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not for glory, but to regain his shattered self-regard and to find a place he can call home. The crew is assembled  by an enigmatic coach and mentored by a visionary, eccentric British boat builder, but it is their trust in each other that makes them a victorious team. They remind the country of what can be done when everyone quite literally pulls together—a perfect melding of commitment, determination, and optimism.

Drawing on the boys’ own diaries and journals, their photos and memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, The Boys in the Boat is an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times—the improbable, intimate story of nine working-class boys from the American west who, in the depths of the Great Depression, showed the world what true grit really meant. It will appeal to readers of Erik Larson, Timothy Egan, James Bradley, and David Halberstam's The Amateurs.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:00 -0400)

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Daniel James Brown's robust book tells the story of the University of Washingtons 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans.

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