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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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1,186746,774 (4.29)93
  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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Showing 1-5 of 74 (next | show all)
A feel good story about the 1936 University of Washington rowing team and their quest to make it to the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

While I did enjoy the novel tremendously, I felt the title was a bit misleading. The focus of the story is on one individual, Joe Rantz. Other boys are mentioned but the true protagonist is Joe (and Goebbels and film producer Leni Riefenstahl).

Daniel Brown has gathered an exhaustive amount of information to give us a rather stirring recap of the lives and challenges faced by 8 boys and their coach. Although the story focuses on Joe and the hardships he had to bear, what Mr. Brown was able to convey through Joe's story was the very hard life led by these simple and humble young men; individuals who were the sons of lumberjacks and farmers; who didn't know if they would be back at school the next semester; young men who worked round the clock for their tuition. These 8 men become the symbolism for grit and determination in a very fragile time. Hitler was in power but had not fully unleashed his terror upon the world.

A nicely written biography which at times did become a bit laborious to read however, that was all made up for in the end with a climax that, although you knew what happened, you kept your fingers crossed that they would win. This suspension of reality, to me, is what made the novel a winner. ( )
  NancyNo5 | Sep 29, 2015 |
Fantastic feel good story of poor boy who makes it big...wins the Olympics with 8 other boys. 1/2 pt less because I won't read it again, but I will read this author's other works. He brought in history of the times and ordinary lives of many people, showing us what makes them tick. Really enjoyed this like a fiction bestseller! ( )
  bereanna | Sep 1, 2015 |
This is the story of the crew team in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. While the descriptions of rowing and racing were more interesting than I imagined they would be, the most interesting parts were about the preparations in Germany for hosting the Olympics. Trying to prove to the world that they were not oppressing the Jewish population was quite a planned propaganda move. The politics of the Olympics are interesting. The book is well written and overall engaging. ( )
  klburnside | Aug 11, 2015 |
Chronicling not only the University of Washington crew team's triumphant feat of capturing the gold medal at Hitler's 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Brown's thoroughly researched biography details the ascent of the Nazi party in Germany as they prepare for one of the greatest Olympics games ever to be held. Through the patchworked life of crew member Joe Rantz, the engrossing story also provides insight into the history of Seattle, the rigors of building the Grand Coulee Dam, the demands of the mining and logging industries, the devastating impact of the Great Depression, and the subsequent dust bowls. Joe's life struggles characterize those of his class as a generation labors to survive in a cruelly paralleled world of privilege and suffering. Candid and formal photographs of the period scattered throughout the richly-detailed book highlight a simpler, yet unstable time for not only the Husky crew team, but for the entire world. For history buffs, sports fans, and lovers of triumphant tales Brown's captivating book will generously satisfy all who read it. There is also a young readers adaptation of the book for middle years and young adult readers. ( )
  MzzColby | Aug 7, 2015 |
After a somewhat slow start, the book became engrossing. Joe Rantz was a teenager without a family or prospects, finds himself attending the University of Washington where he becomes a part of the rowing crew that won gold at the 1936 Olympics. In the 1930's rowing was such a popular sport that it was broadcast over the radio. Mainly teams from the Ivy League schools in the East were the stars. However, the University of California's team has won some prestigious events and has received national acclaim. The coach at Univ of Washington, Al Ulbrickson, is determined to take his crew to the Olympics.

The first part of the book is basically the story of Joe and his struggles. His mother dies at an early age and his father marries a woman who wants no part of Joe. Eventually, his family abandons him. He becomes a lumber jack, a musician, a shipyard worker and anything to survive. While in high school, he meets a young woman, Joyce, who understands his struggles and feelings about his family. Joe is truly an example of a young man who is able to pull himself up by sheer grit and determination.

There is a lot in the book about rowing (perhaps a bit too much). Success in rowing is made possible through total trust and cooperation within the team. For Joe, who always had to look out for himself, this was a hard lesson to learn, but eventually through working with his coaches, he was able to do so. The book becomes especially interesting when it focuses on Hitler's goal to make the 1936 Olympics a showcase for German superiority. The building of the stadium, the propaganda, and the people supporting Hitler are very interesting. The final section which describes the race for gold is excellent. America received the worse lane for rowing and one team member was ill; yet, they managed to get the gold.

Probably would not have read this but was book club selection; however, glad I did. ( )
  maryreinert | Jul 31, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 74 (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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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:00 -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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