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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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2,2731512,813 (4.32)1 / 212
  1. 41
    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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Showing 1-5 of 149 (next | show all)
Underdogs who come out victorious, family drama, Olympic dreams, the Great Depression, and finally beating some Nazis, this book has it all. Brown's prose really makes you feel like you are watching the races and even though you know the outcome you are reading on the edge of your seat, or staying up hours after your bedtime to find out what happens next. I also appreciated that Brown doesn't ignore the horrors that were taking place in Germany around the 1936 Games and those that would come after; he never gets saccharine or get in a soapbox, but he does touch on them as if they were shadows lurking around the brilliance of the boys' story. ( )
  Bodagirl | Jun 25, 2017 |
Bill Buv and Bill Grace liked this but sport stories are not a favorite of mine
Sampled 6/21/2017.& ( )
  ebeach | Jun 23, 2017 |

A delightful read, all around. If I had any issues with it, they were at the beginning.

If you ignore the blather about rowing being the most difficult sport ever, the beginning is palatable. For goodness sake, there are tons of sports that involve folks pushing past the limits of their endurance to just. go. one. more. little. bit. further. Just ask any runner, for instance.

So, that was ridiculous, but after that it is beautifully written. At its core, it's showcasing the personal growth of one specific member of the boat, while simultaneously telling the tale of their journey to the Olympics (hey, if you don't know they won, you're not paying close enough attention) and the sheer horror of Hitler's administration. Because Brown got to speak directly with that crew member and his daughter, there is a consistently strong element of veracity that really shapes and brings meaning to the story he's telling.

There were several times in this book when he brought tears to my eyes - especially at the end when he describes how life treated each "boy" after the Olympics, but also during the lead-up to the games when you realize how many false starts occurred, how often chance intervened in their favor, and how difficult it was to become the team they wanted to be.

Read this book if you want to remember the value of cooperation and what it can do for the human spirit. ( )
  khage | Jun 20, 2017 |
This book is not literature. If you want to read a well-written story about the art of rowing, this book is for you. There was very little character development. The reader learns more about the shell builder's thoughts that those of the rowers including Rantz. Why was Rantz so sporadic in his rowing? We learn about his challenging childhood, but what is he thinking when he rows perfectly one day and terribly the next? And what of the coach? He is simply too mysterious. Why does he change his mind about the composition of the boats one day and then change it again another? We know nothing of what drives him to become one of the best rowing coaches in history, putting Washington on the map with the Eastern schools. Parts of the book are downright hokie. The Washington crew acts rude and disrespectful, not even donning their uniforms when appropriate, yet the author tries to tie this irreverence into what made America win the war against the Nazi's. It did not work for me. Describing the synchronicity in the boat and when the boys got their "swing" was a beautiful thing, but it's been said before and is true for most sports. It was another way of describing the "zone" when all else ceases to exist and you know you are performing at some spiritual level. ( )
  ErinDenver | Jun 12, 2017 |
This profile of the nine young men who represented the US in rowing at the 1936 Olympics is so much more than just a sports story. As it digs into the lives of these young men, especially Joe Rantz, the reader gets a vivid picture of life in the Seattle area during the 1930's. Events like the building of the Grand Coulee dam - where Joe works during the summer to earn tuition for college -- become memorable parts of the story, which is of course mostly about rowing. Yet even a non-rowing fan like me got sucked into that aspect of the book as well - as the author gave excellent profiles of Al Ulbrickson, their taciturn coach and George Pocock, the master boat maker. And knowing much about Joe Rantz's backstory which included being practically abandoned by his family when he was young made me want to root for his success. Becoming emotionally involved with the characters helped, but the author also skillfully described the actual races in such a way that the tension was palpable. I was on the edge of my seat - so to speak - wondering if the boys were going to pull of a win and how they were going to do it. When they get to take the trip of a lifetime to the Berlin Olympics more fascinating history is included - such as how the film producer Leni Riefenstahl was heavily involved in filming Hitler's ultimate propaganda piece for the world. I learned so much about history from this book and it made me think about the lessons we can learn from the past. We talked about that a lot when our book group discussed this title and it was one of our most memorable discussions. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys history, sports and stories about over coming obstacles. ( )
  debs4jc | Jun 9, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 149 (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)
Pleased to meet you! My name is Hilario and I totally love this name. Doing origami is what my family and I enjoy. After being out of my job for years I became a human resources assistant. Tennessee is where we've been living for years.

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Daniel James Brownprimary authorall editionscalculated
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.
Competitive rowing is an undertaking of extraordinary beauty preceded by brutal punishment.
One of the first admonitions of a good rowing coach, after the fundamentals are over, is “pull your own weight,” and the young oarsman does just that when he finds out that the boat goes better when he does. There is certainly a social implication here. -George Yeoman Pocock
There is a thing that sometimes happens in rowing that is hard to achieve and hard to define. Many crews, even winning crews, never really find it. Others find it but can’t sustain it. It’s called “swing.” It only happens when all eight oarsmen are rowing in such perfect unison that no single action by any one is out of synch with those of all the others. . . . Rowing then becomes a kind of perfect language. Poetry, that’s what a good swing feels like.
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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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