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Customer Review

834 of 855 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Storytelling at its Best., May 5, 2013
This review is from: The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics (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. The speed of a racing shell is determined primarily by two factors: the power produced by the combined strokes of the oars, and the stroke rate, the number of strokes the crew takes each minute. 3) To defeat an adversary who was your equal, maybe even your superior, it wasn't necessarily enough just to give your all from start to finish. You had to master your opponent mentally. When the critical moment in a close race was upon you, you had to know something he did not- that down in your core you still had something in reserve, something you had not yet shown. 4) The things that held them together--trust in one another, mutual respect, humility, fair play, watching out for one another--those were also part of what America meant to all of them. There are other great ideas to ponder in this epic almost 400 page, could-not-put-down story.

I am not giving away anything by telling you that they DO win Gold at the 1936 Olympics. It is HOW they did it that is so darn exciting. Even knowing the end result does not diminish this bigger than life adventure. This is a must read, period.
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Tracked by 11 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 42 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 13, 2013 4:59:42 PM PDT
You can always say that my review is not worth your time, but you are sighting specifics about University's that I never commented on. I know the boys were in Seattle and not some other state. Sorry if you are upset about something I never said. I loved this book. It was exciting to read. I hope you have a great day.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 23, 2013 7:11:43 AM PDT
S. Radler says:
Great review! I'd say that some of the best books are those where you know "who" and you know "why," but the explanation of the "how" is what's so fascinating. I couldn't put "The Boys in the Boat" down either.

Posted on Dec 27, 2013 5:55:40 PM PST
wahoogal says:
sounds perfect for a nephew who just started rowing within the last year!

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 27, 2013 8:14:06 PM PST
I am glad I could add some small part to this journey. As a non-rower, I was totally sucked into the world of rowing. It seems to be so intense, yet so rewarding that it makes me wish to be 18 again and in a rowing program. The best to your nephew in his goal.

Posted on Mar 23, 2014 9:10:40 AM PDT
S. Watson says:
This is a wonderful review. I will take it with me tomorrow to my book club for the discussion of The Boys in the Boat, which I too absolutely loved! Thank you! Susan

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 23, 2014 5:08:37 PM PDT
I have read another 12 to 15 books since I wrote this review. Some were good books, but this story still is the best to "grab me by my hand" and pull me in. I hope your book club was/is a great success.

Posted on May 5, 2014 11:44:36 AM PDT
I add my ditto. Although I knew nothing about the sport of shell rowing, the book completely swept me up. One cannot help but fall in love with the muscular and determined young men who battled their way to victory in the 1936 Olympics. Daniel James Brown's book is a triumph!

Posted on Sep 15, 2014 2:19:53 PM PDT
Question: Is this a book women would enjoy?

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 15, 2014 7:13:25 PM PDT
I would say positively yes. I must add that a wonderfully written biography is not written for a man, woman, child or any special type of subcategory of people. It is just written for all. There is no slant other than a well written story. If you want to support a USA team from way back, then this is the book for you. I really hope you will consider this book. It is that good.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 18, 2014 2:23:50 PM PDT
M. C. says:
Absolutely - a book for this woman, anyway. I couldn't put it down from the first page and am only half way through now. It's a very special book.
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