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The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics (Ala Notable Books for Adults) Hardcover – June 4, 2013


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Product Details

  • Series: Ala Notable Books for Adults
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; First Edition edition (June 4, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067002581X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670025817
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6,062 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #739 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Daniel James Brown’s The Boys in the Boat is the kind of nonfiction book that reads like a novel. Centered around the life of Joe Rantz—a farmboy from the Pacific Northwest who was literally abandoned as a child—and set during the Great Depression, The Boys in the Boat is a character-driven story with a natural crescendo that will have you racing to the finish. In 1936, the University of Washington’s eight-oar crew team raced its way to the Berlin Olympics for an opportunity to challenge the greatest in the world. How this team, largely composed of rowers from “foggy coastal villages, damp dairy farms, and smoky lumber towns all over the state,” managed to work together and sacrifice toward their goal of defeating Hitler’s feared racers is half the story. The other half is equally fascinating, as Brown seamlessly weaves in the story of crew itself. This is fast-paced and emotional nonfiction about determination, bonds built by teamwork, and what it takes to achieve glory. —Chris Schluep

From Booklist

*Starred Review* If Jesse Owens is rightfully the most famous American athlete of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, repudiating Adolf Hitler’s notion of white supremacy by winning gold in four events, the gold-medal-winning effort by the eight-man rowing team from the University of Washington remains a remarkable story. It encompasses the convergence of transcendent British boatmaker George Pocock; the quiet yet deadly effective UW men’s varsity coach, Al Ulbrickson; and an unlikely gaggle of young rowers who would shine as freshmen, then grow up together, a rough-and-tumble bunch, writes Brown, not very worldly, but earnest and used to hard work. Brown (Under a Flaming Sky, 2006) takes enough time to profile the principals in this story while using the 1936 games and Hitler’s heavy financial and political investment in them to pull the narrative along. In doing so, he offers a vivid picture of the socioeconomic landscape of 1930s America (brutal), the relentlessly demanding effort required of an Olympic-level rower, the exquisite brainpower and materials that go into making a first-rate boat, and the wiles of a coach who somehow found a way to, first, beat archrival University of California, then conquer a national field of qualifiers, and finally, defeat the best rowing teams in the world. A book that informs as it inspires. --Alan Moores

More About the Author

Daniel James Brown grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and attended Diablo Valley College, the University of California at Berkeley, and UCLA. He taught writing at San Jose State University and Stanford before becoming a technical writer and editor. He now writes narrative nonfiction books full time. His primary interest as a writer is in bringing compelling historical events to life vividly and accurately.

He and his wife live in the country outside of Seattle, Washington, with an assortment of cats, dogs, chickens, and honeybees. When he isn't writing, he is likely to be birding, gardening, fly fishing, reading American history, or chasing bears away from the beehives.

Amazon Author Rankbeta 

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#52 Overall (See top 100 authors)
#6 in Books > History
#52 in Books
#99 in Kindle eBooks
#6 in Books > History
#52 in Books
#99 in Kindle eBooks

Customer Reviews

Great story very well written.
Paul B.
This is a wonderful and true story about the 1936 University of Washington varsity crew, eight young men who rowed into history.
BrianB
This is an great story of an amazing group of young American men overcoming adversity.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

352 of 362 people found the following review helpful By Wayne Crenwelge VINE VOICE on May 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I have never rowed. I have never read a rowing book that I can remember. If all stories about rowing were written like Daniel Brown's fabulous multi-level biography, I would read every one of them. This is a wonderful account, told with such detail and precision that I sometimes felt as if I were in this tale. Mr. Brown totally sucked me into his adventure. These young men who rowed for the USA in the 1936 Olympics faced huge obstacles. It was the Depression. Many were dirt-poor. They came from a small (then) and nondescript town of Seattle. They could not have had more difficult problems thrown their way. But by taking every sliver of hope, and mixing in superb craftsmanship (from George Pocock), excellent coaching (Al Ulbrickson), and these nine perfectly attuned young men learning together........the result was perfection. This is a true Team sport. I learned that. It is nice to learn something you never knew, but is common knowledge to an entire set of other people. If you want to read a great, true story of success, this will fit the bill in spades.....and you will understand rowing to boot.

The research is mostly based on primary resources, including interviews with some members who were still living as the book was pulled together. Family members did supply additional information to make this undertaking feel solid and well thought out.

Concepts from Daniel Brown to consider that are mixed into the story to teach all of us: 1) One of the fundamental challenges in rowing is that when any one member of a crew goes into a slump the entire crew goes with him. 2) There are certain laws of physics by which all crew coaches live and die.
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156 of 164 people found the following review helpful By BrianB VINE VOICE on April 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a wonderful and true story about the 1936 University of Washington varsity crew, eight young men who rowed into history. Daniel James Brown writes so well that history becomes personal, the distant past becomes immediate, and the now dead men and women are alive again in the mind of the reader. He describes the sport of rowing in great detail and with accuracy, no mean feat for someone who never rowed. His writing is comparable to David Halberstam, author of The Amateurs, in quality and in scope. In fact, Mr. Brown has surpassed him with this book. The author, who is unfortunate enough to share a name with Dan Brown of DaVinci Code infamy, does a thorough report on the men in the boat, their families, their coaches, the history of the 1930's, and the science of sport.

Many of the old luminaries of American rowing are in this story, the good, the bad, and the legendary, including Hiram Conibear, Tom Bolles, Al Ulbrickson and George Pocock. The story of the Pocock racing shell, which was still the best racing boat in the US when I started rowing, is detailed, along with the life story of George Pocock, his personality, and his contributions to Washington crews.

At times the author gets a bit over enthusiastic, and comes close to melodrama. Some of the rowing details were overwrought, particularly during the races. He describes the crews as "furiously hacking at the choppy water..." That doesn't describe the sport of rowing, except for raw beginners. Nevertheless, I only have minor complaints: it is a well written story.

This is a recommended read for anyone who has suffered through a season of rowing.
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94 of 98 people found the following review helpful By deeper waters on May 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Based on meticulous research including considerable primary resources and oral narrative, Daniel Brown's story of the University of Washington rowing crew that won gold in the 1936 Olympics, gives an experiential look at the athletes who lacked the amenities, family devotion and corporate sponsorships that today are pretty much viewed as essential for achieving such success. Shaped by the social, economic and political challenges of the Dust Bowl, Depression and the simmering hostilities in Europe, these young men developed the "harmony, balance and rhythm" necessary not only to triumph in Berlin but to thrive in life. Knowing nothing about rowing, this book was intellectually and spiritually satisfying. Brown did an excellent job of developing the character of the individuals as well as the society in which they lived. Parallel developments in Europe provided a good counterpoint and context for understanding the complexity of thought and behavior of the time. It also points to the significant role that coaches play in the formation of any athlete and the importance of seeing the whole person vs. some subset of the totality that is who we are. "And so they passed away, loved and remembered for all that they were ~ not just Olympic oarsmen, but good men, one and all."
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82 of 85 people found the following review helpful By Michael DENNISUK VINE VOICE on May 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Daniel James Brown's "The Boys in the Boat" is an outstanding account of nine man crew that captured the gold medal in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Like "Seabiscuit" this book transcends the subject of "rowing". It transports you to another place and time. The story is told through the eyes of Joe Rantz, a remarkable man who overcame much adversity to be sitting in that shell on the Langer See in 1936. So many colorful characters are brought vividly to life, the coach, Al Ulbrickson, the boat maker, George Yeoman Pocock. The writing is suberb. this is a MUST READ!! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!
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