Customer Review

156 of 164 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great rowing story, April 8, 2013
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This review is from: The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics (Ala Notable Books for Adults) (Hardcover)
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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. It brought back all the anxiety of fighting for a seat in the boat, the hours of self doubt, the pain of training in bad weather, with bad combinations of rowers, and the joy of getting it right, feeling the boat fly. This is an inspirational story, one that will lift you up, and it is wonderful, not only because Brown is a great writer, but because it is true.
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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 26, 2013 9:38:58 AM PDT
Revelr says:
re: University of Washington, rather than Washington University. Thanks.

Posted on May 28, 2013 10:08:12 AM PDT
My son was a rower at Notre Dame--I am ordering this book for him--after I read it first, however!

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 13, 2013 3:41:46 PM PDT
C. King says:
Coming from St. Louis, home of Washngton University, I would second that correction. Washington University does have a rowing program now and good luck to them - hope that they, too can can have a storied program!

Posted on Jul 4, 2013 12:03:47 AM PDT
thomgray says:
I rowed three years in high school and three more during college.We never won any of the larger regatta's that we entered in college but I cherish those moments even now , forty years later. So I am looking forward to reading this book about a crew that actually won , the big race and how it affected the lives then and now.

Posted on Jul 7, 2013 7:19:31 AM PDT
The best way to describe it is I told my wife about the last race and nearly cried. I felt like I was in the boat.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 17, 2013 6:22:05 PM PDT
BrianB says:
My apologies.
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BrianB
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Location: Northern California

Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,879