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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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934639,334 (4.29)79
  1. 21
    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 62 (next | show all)
So many people I know have raved about this book. But I postponed reading it, since I have never been a fan of non-fiction. I LOVED this book. The story is inspirational and compelling, and even though I knew the outcome from the beginning, the plot unfolded like a page turner. What I really enjoyed was the pacing and the way Brown interspersed this with information about the difficult economic situation in the US and the gradual rise to power of the Nazi party in Germany. Excellent story and exceptional execution. ( )
  jmoncton | May 4, 2015 |
hen I first heard about crew, I thought there could probably not be any better sport, to be out on the water and pulling on oars sounded amazing. Then I realized that crew rowed in all weather, and they often rowed in the early mornings, at least where we lived. Not being a morning person, my interest in crew petered out before it really even got started. But I still enjoy watching the fluid, effortless looking pull of men and women out in their shells. Daniel James Brown's non-fiction work The Boys in the Boat gave me a renewed appreciation for the sport as it wove its tale of nine young men striving to not only dominate their college sport but also to overcome the odds and take home gold from Hitler's 1936 Olympics.

There has been much written about Hitler's Olympics but until now, the focus has never turned to 8 oarsmen and 1 coxswain from the University of Washington despite the fascinating story behind their gold medal performance. Opening with the start of crew tryouts in 1933, this book looks at not only the grueling road to earning a seat in the boat but also at the state of the country and the world as well as the personal history of one of the young men who overcame so much to take his place as a part of this amazing crew.

Joe Rantz suffered a desperately poor and unhappy childhood. His mother died when he was young and his stepmother, disappointed in her own life and resentful of her stepson, kicked the young boy out of the family home twice, cruelly separating him from his half siblings and his father. He learned to make his own way in the world but his trust and willingness to depend on others was damaged by the lack of love he was shown at such a young age. From very early on, he had to fend for himself with only the loyalty of his long-time girlfriend to show him a glimmer of his worth. Despite his family's abandonment of him, and in the shadow of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, the lanky young man managed to scrounge up tuition to the University of Washington, where he made his way to the crew house in hopes of joining the team.

The University of Washington was one of the powerhouses of the sport, regularly battling Cal for West Coast supremacy. Washington's coach, Al Ulbrickson, had a keen eye and a good understanding of what made a boat come together into something that transcended the individual boys. UW also had the benefit of Englishman George Pocock, the preminent shell builder, working out of their boathouse. Not only was Pocock a master craftsman of elegant and fast boats, but he had an instinctual understanding of the sport and shared his insights with Ulbrickson.

As the story moved along, Brown wove Joe Rantz' personal story with the larger tale of the boys coalescing into a team over a three year period. And then he wove both of those narratives with the mechanics of the sport, the history of the US in the mid to late 1930s, and the long-ranging preparations for the Olympics and the façade that Hitler created of a prosperous and happy Germany. With so many pieces of the story, it became a true inspirational epic as Rantz found belonging in the boat, the boys found their stroke together, and they displayed enormous heart in the face of seemingly insurmountable road blocks on their way to Olympic waters. Despite knowing the outcome of the story, the tension remained high throughout the telling of each race, making for a thrilling read. A fascinating story of amazing perseverance and glory spun from the humblest of origins, this will certainly appeal to athletes and WWII buffs. But even those who have no interest in crew as a sport should not miss this gripping and stunning tale. ( )
  whitreidtan | May 1, 2015 |
The Boys in the Boat tells the triumphant story of the University of Washington 8-man crew which won gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Leading up to the author's visit to my library, I wrote a series of commentaries about the book and its many related topics. Those commentaries and a few photos are compiled here: http://www.wa-list.com/?p=3498
  benjfrank | Apr 25, 2015 |
As inspirational as it is sobering, "The Boys In The Boat" takes us from the doorstep of WWII to the Olympics of 1936 in Berlin. The story centers around Joe, who was a young child growing up during The Great Depression.

With incredible imagery and historic accuracy, Joe recalls the tragic events of his heartbreaking and homeless childhood, and reflects on the hunger and loneliness of that decade.

With a redemption that overpowers The Great Depression, Joe's determination takes him from devastation to greatness in this inspiring true story of a 9 man Crewing Team. ( )
  steeleyjan | Apr 19, 2015 |
This nonfiction story of the United States crew team attempt at winning in the 1936 Olympics in Germany under Hitler was really quite interesting. Most of the book tells of the people involved in the quest and the time leading to the Olympics, and the stories give life to these individuals. The part once they have arrived in Germany is relatively short but fascinating. And sad. Hitler. My lord, what we humans are capable of doing to one another.

The author sometimes got a bit carried away with adjectives, hyperbole, and sentimentality, but this is still a solid book about average guys working hard to achieve something, both for themselves and for their country, well worth reading (or, in my case, hearing). ( )
  TooBusyReading | Apr 6, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 62 (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 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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