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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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4413323,785 (4.37)35
Recently added byislesfordlibrary, J.Green, private library, CFeathers, rmacd47, AmourFou, nytbestsellers, SuzyK222
  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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Wonderful book! The author keeps the tension going throughout the book which keeps the reader enthralled even though you know how the book is going to end. Having the backstory of the crew, their personal and financial challenges as well as their academic and physical ones. Brown is a wordsmith! ( )
  lisa.schureman | Aug 24, 2014 |
Despite the fact that ones knows the outcome of this story, somehow Brown captivates the struggles of the men in the boat and the agony and beauty of rowing. The story focuses primarily on Joe Rants who despite overwhelming odds, becomes a central member of the rowing team. A remarkable tale! ( )
  creighley | Aug 19, 2014 |
THE BOYS IN THE BOAT is the story of "nine Americans and their epic quest for gold and the 1936 Berlin Olympics," as the subtitle says, but it is also the story of rower Joe Rantz's young life, up through the 1936 Olympics.

Each chapter begins with a quote from George Yeoman Pocock, the English-born builder of Washington's (and many other programs') racing shells. The story is told in a mostly linear fashion, with occasional flashes of the dark activities in Germany, and the horrifying future to come: "[Hilde] was the second of what would become six Goebbels children, all of whom Magda Goebbels would order murdered with cyanide eleven years later."

But the peeks into Berlin are brief and infrequent until the team itself arrives in Germany for the Olympics; most of the story focuses on Joe's childhood and his experience at the University of Washington. Joe's existence is tenuous, with little-to-no support from his family; in Depression-era Seattle, he struggles to earn enough to stay in school, and rarely has enough to eat. Nevertheless, he perseveres, and JV and Varsity coach Al Ulbrickson finally recognizes his value and places him in the first boat, whereupon everything clicks into place.

Rowing in a racing shell requires that each teammate trust completely in every other teammate; more than technical skill or strength, trust and camaraderie are required. Joe didn't find this with his first boat, which contained boys who made fun of him for his raggedy sweater, but he made lifelong bonds with the boys in the boat that went to Berlin, and triumphed there.

Daniel James Brown's writing incorporates his exhaustive amount of research, but does it in a light, natural way, including short quotes from the boys' journals and diaries, and remembered snippets of conversation. A long read, but highly recommended.


Like most competitive rowers, he was drawn to difficult things. A good challenge had always interested him, appealed to him. That ways, in many ways, why he rowed. (220)

It came now as a startling and painful realization that he'd had something and lost it without fully understanding that he'd had it in the first place. (221) ( )
  JennyArch | Aug 14, 2014 |
A first class story, told with intelligence and style. ( )
  nmele | Aug 6, 2014 |
I wasn't quite sure about this book as a Book Club pick, but to my surprise I found myself deeply immersed in it and relived with intensity the few months of rowing I did back in college.
The frilly style soon settles into a companionable rhythm and the reader discovers Joe's world and slowly comes to discover the people and friends who populated it. There are cracks in the first chapters as Brown tries to fit the world stage and Hitler's Germany into the mix - these come as jarring and unnecessary - but as the book progresses these incursions in History bring Joe and his teammates' courage in the limelight. By the end of the book, after having watched Leni Riefenstahl's videos and leafed repeatedly through the photos, I was completely enthralled.
I put down the book with a sense of having known the oarsmen and admired their determination, perseverance and talent. A engrossing and inspiring read! ( )
  Cecilturtle | Aug 4, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 27 (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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