The Boys in the Boat

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The Boys in the Boat
by Daniel James Brown






Every once in a while I come across an outstanding book.  This is one of them.  It’s definitely on my top 20 favorites list.  (I actually read this book a little over 1-1/2 years ago and I’m re-reading it this summer.)

This is the true story of the nine top varsity men, mostly sophomores and juniors, of the University of Washington rowing program and their quest for a gold medal at the 1936 Olympics in Germany.

The author, Mr. Daniel Brown, writes poetically about the art of rowing and its parallels to life. Without it ever being boring, he describes the technical details about rowing and the intricacies necessary for a 9-man crew (the pain, effort, dedication, and mental focus that goes into this sport). He describes what is required for a winning team: physical toughness, exact technique and synchronization, rigorous training often in freezing, wet, and rough weather, racing and training strategies, great coaching, racing shell design and construction, and more.  Mr. Brown is a gifted writer that weaves history and geography, teamwork and competition, and dedication and perseverance with excitement and hardship all into one very inspirational, uplifting, heartwarming, fascinating, exceptional book.

Every chapter begins with words of wisdom by the legendary boat builder, George Pocock.  Mr. Pocock had notable knowledge of rowing and how the principles of great boats and great rowing apply to life.  I loved learning about his exceptional woodworking skills and how he made the finest boats in the world in a workshop above the University of Washington rowing house.

Even though I loved reading about each of the nine rowers, I was wholly captivated by Joe Rantz – about how he survived and endured adversity and abandonment with great dignity and character.   His story is a testament to the power of the human spirit and is a great example of what some say was America’s Greatest Generation. Each of these men are real heroes – their spirit, their strength of character, their rigorous training, and their hardships all helped them meld into a championship team, an olympic team.  (These nine men remained friends for life and got together every ten years to go out rowing on Lake Washington.)

Before reading The Boys in the Boat I didn’t know anything about rowing but now I’m definitely a fan of this beautiful, peaceful, and graceful sport.  (I would love to know your thoughts, if you’ve read this book.)

(I’ve also read two other excellent books written by this author: The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of the Donner Party and Under a Flaming Sky: The Great Hinckley Firestorm of 1894.  Reviews coming soon.)

More book reviews:
Gift from the Sea
I Am Potential
The Mitford Series
James Herriot’s books: All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Bright and Beautiful, All Things Wise and
Wonderful, The Lord God Made Them All

Total Money Makeover
Sparkly Green Earrings


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