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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

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5803417,036 (4.27)45
  1. 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)
  2. 11
    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.

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Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
An interesting book in parts, perceptive about how difficult it is to row well, detailing the physical and personal toll that excelling at rowing takes. George Pocock's crew insights add structure to the book but invariably the book wanders away from rowing itself into biographical matters, to its weakness in my view. That said the book is well worth reading if just for its account of the 1936 Olympic final which sounds like quite the race, draining for crews and fans both. ( )
  TomMcGreevy | Oct 24, 2014 |
I liked this story for many reasons. It was interresting, you got a real sense on how people lived in the 1930's and it wasn't easy. I liked the way the author gave us a perspective on the German attitude toward the Olympics and about living in those times. I love stories where perseverance and tenacity prevail. ( )
  janismack | Oct 15, 2014 |
The last 100 pages were very good, making me wish that the previous 275 pages had been condensed enough to have been just as enjoyable. It was as if the author took a cue from the team's racing strategy: staying at a slow pace until the final moments and then sprinting to a wonderful finish. Mostly, I just kept thinking it wasn't as good as Unbroken...here, the story was good but the connection to the characters was weak. ( )
1 vote melopher | Sep 25, 2014 |
If you think a non-fiction book about rowing, will be boring, think again. Written and read exceptionally well, this is a compelling true tale. The history of boat building, rowing and shells, heroism and hardship makes for a brilliant reading experience. The story is written with such depth and description that the words fly off the page. To say it is inspiring is to dwarf its full effect. The reader is superb, enveloping the listener in his resonant, expressive voice, always assuming the right accent and stress, so much so that at times the reader may picture a glint in his eye. It is never maudlin nor is it hyperbolic. It is about a different time, beginning about a century ago, a time when the young grew up early, of necessity, survived by their wits, rarely gave up without a fight, and expected nothing for free and nothing unearned. It is about courage and resourcefulness in the face of the greatest negative odds, it is about believing in something in an all consuming way.
This book should be read by a wide audience, young adult and adult alike. I believe even middle graders would benefit from it, if led by a dedicated teacher, interested in imparting a moral lesson to the class. This book is a lesson on the benefits of perseverance, the ability to accomplish results believed out of reach, the ability to push oneself beyond what was believed to be human endurance; it is awe-inspiring.
“The Boys in the Boat” encompasses the traumatic events that occurred in the 20th century, from WWI, to The Great Depression, and then, briefly, follows up on the lives of the “boys” who served their country and grew into men. It describes the dust bowls, FDR’s WPA and the building of the Grand Coulee Dam, Hitler’s advance on Europe and the tragedy of the Holocaust, but mostly, it is about events leading to the enormous Olympic victory achieved by the University of Washington’s, American rowing team, in 1936. Germany staged the event, magnificently, to convince the world that The Fatherland was on its way to being Utopia, rather than a country creating a nightmare for the rest of the unsuspecting, perhaps blind by choice, world that did not want to become involved with the problems of others, a world view that seems all too familiar today.
The reader will devour the information presented on the history of rowing and its famed shell builder, George Yeoman Pocock, on the coaches who battled each other for the winning titles, who strove for an Olympic presence, and on the eventual success of the tenacious team from Seattle. They will wax nostalgic and marvel at the mention of such famous heroes and accomplishments like those of Joe Lewis, Jesse Owens, the horses, War Admiral and Sea Biscuit, and the Titanic and the S.S. Manhattan. Sadness will engulf the reader when they revisit the madness of Hitler and his concentration camps, Kristallnacht and WWII.
Mostly, though, this is the story of courage and inner strength, both found in Joe Rantz, a young boy, tossed out into the world at age 10 by poverty and cruelty. He was unprepared, but also unwilling to give up, unwilling to fail at life. No matter how many times he was knocked down, he somehow pulled himself up to face another day, and it is through his life that we learn of the boys who sat in the boat built by George Pocock that would lead them all to victory and a permanent place in history’s hall of fame.
This book tells the story of a group of young men, called boys throughout the book, which gave them an identity that seemed vulnerable and yet brave throughout. Each one, in his own way, was a hero and role model that would be wise to imitate today. They were boys with all the foibles boys possess, with all the mischief and crudeness, but they were boys that were determined to succeed, against all odds, against their ancestry, against the class barriers that tried to prevent them from achieving their goals. They had character. You will feel their struggles, their pain, their joy, their anger and their compassion. You may not understand the behavior of some of the characters, but you will eventually understand Joe’s ability to turn every negative into a positive, to forgive all and master every obstacle in his way, without becoming obsessed with the idea of revenge, only with the idea of succeeding.
The descriptions of the races will make the readers hold their breath in anticipation of the results. The details will put the readers there, in that same spotlight that the boys bask within when they win or lose because the prose is flawless and the audio reader's tone is impeccable.
Although some of the subject matter was painful to revisit, the beauty of the narrative countered any discomfort and made it a phenomenal experience, even worthier of reading. The author’s knack for painting accurate pictures of the scenes described was captivating. This author has done a formidable job of presenting a non-fiction book that reads like a novel. It is exciting, touching, tender, romantic, heartwarming, inspiring, and, in short, it is brilliant.
The boys beat Hitler at his own game, even though he tried to rig the rules, changing them so that Germany might win the competition and the medal. The reader will be at the Olympics every step of the way and will feel the tension of the moment which will be almost unendurable. Having hindsight, knowing what will come in the following decade, will make the reader even more aware of the importance of their win. This book imparted that feeling and every bit of the history with accuracy, and without overdoing the emotion.
The anecdotal stories related in “The Boys in the Boat”, enhanced the reader’s understanding of the times and the pressures these boys faced, the understanding of their effort to succeed in the face of daunting obstacles. If I could, I would give this book 10 stars. It is so head and shoulders above much of the drivel that is being turned out today. In spite of a childhood rife with neglect, in spite of formidable impediments before them, Joe and these boys always rebounded, always showed courage in the face of whatever hurdle had to be overcome and had the amazing courage of their convictions to keep on going toward success. ( )
  thewanderingjew | Sep 10, 2014 |
"The Boys in the Boat," tells the story of nine men who were members of the University of Washington crew team. It tells of their hard work in making the team and their goal to reach the 1936 Olympics and come home with a gold medal.

The story is well researched and the reader learns about the members of the crew, centering on Joe Rantz. He was a hard working young man, determined to be successful. His family was poor and he had to work to help support the family from a young age. At the same time, he continued his schooling.

Joe meets Joyce Sanders, and realizes that he wants to spend the rest of his life with her. Joe's mother died at a young age and his father remarried. Joe's step-mother never gave Joe any love. This was saved for the children she had with Joe's father. Joe even faced abandonment by his father and step-mother.

Joe's hard work is recognized and he's invited to enroll at the University of Washington and tryout for the crew team. There were no athletic scholarships at the time but making the team would mean that part time jobs would be available to help pay for a student's expenses.

As Joe and his fellow freshmen are molded into a championship team, across the country depression continues. Jobs were hard to come by and the dust bowl was a term for the terrible wind storms that blew topsoil away and caused many farmers to go bankrupt.

In Germany, Hitler is rising to power and Dr. Joesph Gobbles was made the German minister of propaganda. Both men hated Jews and the persecution of the Jews became intense.

This is a story of sports, determination and a hope of something many shared during the dark days of the depression.

The men travel to Germany and begin seeing the anti-Jewish tone of the country and renew their determination to represent the United States and row them to a championship against the Germans.

I enjoyed the story and sharing the teams moments in history. There are parts of the book that will remain with me for a long time.” ( )
  mikedraper | Aug 31, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 33 (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.
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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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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:49:38 -0400)

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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