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Showing 1-10 of 17,830 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 20,153 reviews
on October 21, 2014
"The Boys in the Boat" by Daniel James Brown is a nonfiction page turner. Set in depression era Seattle, Joe Rantz and his eight mates achieve greatness in rowing. First they rise from humble origins to eventually crew the varsity boat, then they beat California on Lake Washington, then they win the intercollegiate championship on the Hudson, then they win the Olympic trials in Princeton, and finally they win the gold medal in the 1936 Olympics in Germany. They found their "swing" rowing flawlessly as one.

The story is told primarily through Joe, whose self-determination enabled him to overcome abandonment by his family at a young age. We learn less of the other boys in the boat, most of them had also known hardship. A constellation of colorful characters surround the boys - coaches, a boat builder, sports writers, and civic supporters from Seattle plus the whole State of Washington.

As we follow the boys in the boat we learn a lot about their times. We learn about the controversy surrounding the 1936 Olympics, during which escalating Nazi atrocities were hidden behind a cosmetic veil. We learn about the impact of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl on just about everyone, not just the boys in the boat and their Seattle community. We learn about the impact of California and Washington rowing programs on a previously genteel Eastern support.

Brown's lively prose holds us in fascinated suspense throughout. While we start the book knowing how it will end, it is absolutely never clear at any moment how the boys in the boat will get there. The reader's only regret is sometimes wishing to know more details surrounding the many incidents along the way.
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on July 2, 2015
So eloquent, so raw and moving.

Such a powerful story about genuine people living extraordinarily. I learned about lasting love, the essence of a team, the benefit of selflessness and of the limitless boundaries upon achievement.

I think every young person, leader, coach and literate human should read this. I have read excerpts to my husband and teen boys.

It's the kind of book that affects how you see life and yourself.

I dream now of becoming a coxswain. (Not really but it's fun to imagine.)
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on April 26, 2017
Each year, our high school assigns a book that all students are required to read over the summer and then they have an assignment related to the book upon returning to school. This was the book chosen last year and I heard good things about it from my daughter and nieces and nephews so I thought I would give it a go.

I must say that it started out a bit slowly as a lot of the foundation was being laid and it didn't pull me in immediately like some books do but I stuck with it and I was glad that I did. By the time I was about a third of the way through, I was totally sucked in. It is a book that really has something for everyone -- compelling history (Nazi Germany, 1936 Olympics, the Depression era), athletic training and competition (who knew that the sport of rowing could be so fascinating), and compelling stories of individuals that overcame insurmountable odds. I was truly disappointed to see this book end.
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on January 29, 2016
Just this once, I'm going to break my rule not to post an Amazon review if the product already as more than 10 reviews...but I take comfort in the fact that so many others have beaten me to it.

This book was fabulous, on many levels...its a rousing story by itself, but also provides great "backstories" of the characters that (by themselves) also are deeply inspiring. In addition, intertwined within the framework of the story is a metaphor for how any individual can work within a team to achieve a common end.

In fact, this was the reason I came across the book. It was recommended by an outside director, sitting on the Board of directors of a company with which I was working he suggested it to the CEO and told him he should have his senior leadership team read it. I dutifully took note of the title and was glad I did. Its a great story, and one of which I wasn't aware previously. (So, thanks, Bill, you know who you are.)

There are many inspiring tales that center on the 1936 Summer Olympics, and this is among them. For many reasons, highly recommended.
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on December 22, 2015
The Boys in the Boat chronicles the 1936 gold medal winning eight man crew team from University of Washington that represented the United States in the Berlin Olympics.

The focus of the story is a young man named Joe Rantz, who grew up under devastating family and financial conditions in the midst of the Great Depression. It follows his career at University of Washington on the crew, while also giving insights into the coaches and other peripheral characters associated with the team and Joe’s life.

A separate thread which arises from time to time deals with the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany and the staging of the 1936 Olympics as a tour de force propaganda effort. As Joe’s Washington team qualifies for the Olympics and departs for Germany, the two threads come together.

The book is captivating and educational as it relates to the subject of crew (of which I knew nothing), the region of the Pacific Northwest and the privations associated with the Great Depression. While I felt that some aspects of the story were perhaps a little overly dramatized, the story is certainly compelling enough to stand on its own.
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on April 20, 2017
If this had not been a choice of my book club, I would have never thought of reading this book. I am so glad I did. I found the story of the training and the competition before and at the Olympics compelling, and the description of the poverty that Joe lived in made me want to reread such books as The Grapes of Wrath that dealt with the depression and the dust bowl. Sometimes, though, the author went off on tangents and never came back to relate them to the story. Also, I was bored by the seemingly interminable lists of songs, movies, etc of the period. I know that the author included these details to give us an idea of the time period, but honestly, most of these meant little or nothing to me, and I am not young. This is why I didn't rate it 5 stars. I almost gave up before getting very far into the book, but I would have lost out on a rich experience. Speed read through these details, and you will be rewarded by a compelling and inspiring story.
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on August 1, 2017
Fantastic book about a very fascinating topic. Not only it is a look into what people were going through during the Depression, it shows the different way that training was viewed back in that day. My current position has me working with a number of college athletes, so I recognize the amount of time and effort today's athletes put into their training and playing on top of the academic requirements placed on them. Back in the day, it was at a whole different level. These coaches were all about working and then working harder and doing it again. There are a number training regiments which have come down through the decades, but a coach that kept his rowers out on the water in the middle of a driving sleet storm would probably get in trouble now days. This is on top of spending summers hanging on the side of a cliff to work at dam building. Again, these guys are just at a whole different level. Great read, great topic.
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on August 9, 2017
I've read this book twice now (about a year and a half between readings) and I loved it as much the 2nd time as the first. Though I had never watched rowing, Brown brought it to life for me. Though rowing was the vessel for the story, this is truly a story about determination, heart, grit, and hard work. These boys grew up in the Depression and yet they found ways to reach their dreams. In the process, they found a family with one another--a type of bond that goes beyond what we normally think of as familial love. Even knowing the outcome, Brown presents the story of Joe and the other 8 boys in his boat (along with their coaches) in a way that made me feel as though I personally knew them. I laughed, I cried, and in the final contest, I found myself tensing up, willing them to overcome. This is a book about what America truly stands for. A great book that I would recommend to anyone.
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on February 13, 2016
This is one of the top 3 books I have read; as soon as I finished reading I began to miss these boys. The author did a splendid job of introducing each of these boys and the men who trained them, their backgrounds, and their families. My mind made a movie as I read each page; it was as though I knew them. In the course of history it is a rare thing when this caliber of people gathers in one place to accomplish one thing, and it was such a pleasure to watch it grow and come to fruition. These were exceptional young men who took with them through life the lessons of perseverance and determination they learned via rowing; they became wonderful men who were a credit to their families and to America. The writing style was perfect for me; it flowed so well. I read at the end of the day when my mind is spent, and I never had to struggle to remember where I was or what was happening; I could just pick it up and read.
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on August 30, 2016
With the Olympics just past, I thought I would pick up this book, which has languished on my "to read" pile for quite a while. My first comment is that I should have read this book a long time ago! My second comment is that whoever has not read this book should. This is historical narrative at its best. The author thoroughly researched as many perspectives as he could and interleaved them artfully and impartially while ticking his narrative on a perfect pace. The tension towards victory is wound up, released and then rewound with each personal trial Joe faces and each race the boys face. Not only was this book inspirational for athletes, students and humans, but it also honors an era where kids from (desperately) humble origins worked hard and unrelentingly to realize the key goal to getting ahead in America: graduating from college. The backdrop of WWII and its atrocities is deftly included without overwhelming the boys' story. Each race is a nail-biter; each victory a tear-jerker. I deeply enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.
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