Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Review: The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

Title: The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Author: Daniel James Brown
Year Published: 2013

Genre: Adult Non-fiction
Pages: 375 plus notes and index
Rating: 5 out of 5

Location (my 2014 Google Reading map): Germany, WA, NY

FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from a friend

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Out of the depths of the Depression comes the improbably, intimate account of how nine working-class boys from the American West showed the world at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin what true grit really meant. With rowers who were the sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the University of Washington's eight-oar crew was never expected to defeat the elite teams of the East Coast and Great Britain, yet they did, going on to shock the world by challenging the German boat rowing for Adolf Hitler. The emotional heart of the tale lies with Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not only to regain his shattered self-regard but also to find a real place for himself in the world. Drawing on the boys' own journals and vivid memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, Brown has created an unforgettable portrait of an era, a celebration of a remarkable achievement, and a chronicle of one extraordinary young man's personal quest.

Review: A number of people recommended this book to me and now I know why! This is my kind of book (and, I swear, it should be a movie in the tradition of Seabiscuit and Chariots of Fire):
  • The story is true--and gripping and emotional. I smiled, I got choked up, I got angry, and I got excited and tense!
  • It involves a lesser sport--crew and, more important, the men on the team, their families, and the support system. I feel like the reader really gets to know what made the men of the University of Washington crew tick and why they are such an interesting story
  • It takes place in an interesting historical time--1930s. The author did a great job of showing the impact of the Dust Bowl, the Depression and Hitler's rule in Germany.
  • It is well written--the detailed research that went into this book is obvious. He has quotes from radio shows, newspapers, personal diaries, and more, all of which do the most important thing, which is make it a story well told!

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