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Showing 1-10 of 17,912 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 20,275 reviews
on September 19, 2017
This is a heart-felt historical account that tracks the American 8-man rowing crew of the 1936 Olympics. The story combines the rugged and simple backgrounds of the University of Washington students with their quest for a spot on the University’s Varsity rowing team and a path to the Olympics. The strongest parts of this book capture the humility and hard-working ethics of a generation that grew up in the Depression. The setbacks and cruel heartache, challenges beyond individual control, set a poignant stage for all of their accomplishments. The book also interlaces historical news events. The news items are a key element, but at times are also a stilted distraction, and slow the book’s momentum. Taken together in all of its parts, the book does offer clear historical context and stirring personal studies, so works out to be an insightful read.
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VINE VOICEon February 12, 2017
I can't add much that 20,000 other reviewers haven't added. Suffice it to say this is an excellent book.

The author is a masterful storyteller. The picture of the rowers in the Great Depression, and their backgrounds (particularly Joe Rantz, who epitomizes the spirit of rugged individualism in toto), is fascinating. Also interesting is the strategy and teamwork involved in competitive rowing. The entire book is fascinating, but perhaps nothing surpasses the German side of the tail; Nazi officialdom bent on making the 1936 Olympics showcase their new model man and nation. Our American boys throw a monkey-wrench in Hitler's showcase (as does Jesse Owens). The US crew's experience in the Fatherland is priceless storytelling.
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on July 1, 2014
My rowing occurs on a machine at the gym and my only rowing experience on the water has been in a single or double kayak. I never imagined a book about rowing could make for such a thrilling and compelling read and barely considered this book until after a string of repeatedly strong recommendations from others. Frankly, theonly disappointing thing about "The Boys in the Boat" was that it took me so long to finally get around to reading this book, because once I started, it was impossible to put it down.

The decision Daniel Brown made to focus the core of the story on one individual, Joe Rantz, to represent the 1932 University of Washington freshman team (and eventual college and Olympic champions) was a key reason this story succeeded at such a high level. I've read other books about teams where the author makes the mistake of giving equal treatment to far too many characters. In most cases the story suffers as the narrative lacks a cohesive flow and gets choppy while it attempts to balance too many storylines. Brown certainly provides ample narrative treatment to key characters (i.e., coach Al Ulbrickson, boatbuilder George Pocock) and other members of the "nine".

However, Rantz's story has the hallmarks to carry this story---- a dirt poor childhood from a broken family in Western Washington just as the Great Depression begins to unfold. Seattle and the surrounding area was nothing like the tech centric region and gateway to Asia that it is today. it was a region centered around the logging, farming and fishing industries. Rantz's broken family background and estrangement from his father as he entered UW made him highly distrustful of others. His initial experiences at UW did nothing to dispel these feelings as his more well off crew teammates looked down on him and his tattered used clothes. Joyce, Joe's girlfriend and eventual wife, was a bedrock in the relationship and Brown does a nice job keeping the focus of the relationship on the aspects that helped stabilize Joe and his confidence during his greatest moments of self-doubt.

Brown creates vivid and breathtaking depictions of the college rowing races between UW and Cal and the IRA championships back in Poughkeepsie, NY as well as the scintillating "photo" finish at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. However, the best part of the book aren't these dramatic races, but the everyday training and struggles these men encountered throughout the four years. The inner doubts, tireless training, personal struggles and uncertainty with each other in the boat during their training nadir were the most revealing and compelling aspects of "The Boys in the Boat". Ultimately, it was those struggles and self-doubts that they overcome as a team in the momentous summer of 1936, winning the IRA championships and the Gold Medal in stunning fashion.

"The Boys in the Boat" is brilliant storytelling and whether you are a sports fan or not, a rower or not, this is an inspiring read. I'm thankful to Daniel Brown for allowing me to experience this story.
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on September 22, 2015
This is a story of love and loss. It is a story of perseverance and success, of finding one’s self-confidence and then loosing oneself to a greater power: the power that comes from working as a team where the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts. It’s the story of nine men in a boat who overcame all levels of poverty, insecurities, frustrations, disappointments, and rejections to win the 1936 Olympic medal for crew, rowing against Hitler’s team and winning the pre-war Berlin Olympics.
This is also the story of Germany during the buildup of Hitler’s war machine. The reader sees how Germany was whitewashed to present a perfect picture to the world as athletes from around the world gathered to compete. Goebbels saw the Olympics as an opportunity to portray Germany as a modern and civilized state, one that the rest of the world should recognize and respect. Hitler saw it as a way to buy time as he rebuilt his military and industrial complex. They both thought that the world view of the 1936 Olympic Games would become the world view of the new Nazi state.
One aspect of this book that I loved was the craftsmanship—from a philosophical boat builder who labored endlessly to build the perfect boat, to a German filmographer who was exacting in her portrayal of the Olympic events, to the coach who molded young men rather than materials. And the ultimate craft of all was the rowing expertise of those incredible young men.
One member of my book club said that even though she knew the outcome, she was still spellbound with the tension in the book, waiting to see HOW they won. And win they did!
This book was one our book club selected to read. I probably would have not picked this book on my own. What a joy this story became from the first pages. Brown captured my attention with his introduction of Joe Rantz, and kept me enthralled with his telling of this story. These boys were about the same age as my parents in the mid-thirties, and their story embodies the principles that my parents instilled in us—work hard and take pride in your work, stay dedicated to whatever you attempt, keep trying even if it is hard, and be thankful for the your talents.
This book’s message is as powerful for young adults as it is for corporate America. It exemplifies the traits that brought this country to its greatness after the depression and the World Wars. It shows the power of teamwork. In this politically correct age, it carries an inspiring lesson.
Put this on your must-read list. Like me, you won’t regret it.
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VINE VOICEon May 6, 2015
This is one of my favorite genre history told as a fiction.This story reminds me "Unbroken" as you read it you forget this is a real person and this really happened. I love this novel in so many levels. It's well written and I really love how he immersed himself in the story, meeting the main character and the authors note is sincere and heart warming. You know he cared about the characters and the books shows that.
As for the story, is about the true tale of nine men from University of Washington beat everybody and especially Hitlers Germany in 1936. You learn how Germany held the Olympics as a movie set hiding all the ugliness and showing the propaganda of Germany being a friendly and civilized country. I personally found fascinating, Leni Riefenstahl, the Actress, movie director who was ahead of her time doing movies with all the cameras and making these incredible movies to promote the Nazi. The movies as told were brilliant. Too bad , she was doing for the devil.
I had several takeaways, first you think you got it bad now, read or talk to people who went through the depression and you will get a perspective. My dad told me stories as I am older I understand a little better how bad it was during that time. My other takeaway is that to achieve you have to let go with Joe Rantz had to let go of his distrust of people after being hurt and that in a group like the Washington Rowing team , you do it for the team, you don't want to let your team go- your ego doesn't exit.
This story about a bunch of farmers, loggers and country bumpkins became the best in the world by winning the gold metal -is a testament to hard work, luck and sometimes in life the planets and starts aligned just right to make miracles.
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on April 4, 2017
This book covers the lives of nine Americans and their coaches who came out of the last days of a pioneering West and into the Great Depression. It also shows how their teamwork, skill, and resolve allowed them to take on the world. They are a little like Odysseus. They had a great epic adventure and then they came home and built their families and their communities. Darned impressive.
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on August 19, 2017
Wow. Great book, great story. This is the way history books should be written. Even though you really know how it's all going to end, it reads more like a novel, and just had to keep reading to hear about each next step in their story. Loved the narrative of nine boys, all from hardscrabble beginnings in the backwaters of the far U.S. West, in the midst of the Great Depression, who learned to work as one, beautifully in sync, rowing team. Plus I learned a lot about rowing. Never thought I would really care about rowing, but now I see the teamwork and beauty of it. Get this book, read it before the next olympics, and appreciate the beauty of the sport and the perseverance and character of these young men.
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on November 20, 2016
I think this has to be one of the most fantastic, heart wrenching, and inspiring book I have ever read. I know this family but as a child growing up, no one knew Joe's story because no one ever talked about things like this. People just did what they did and went on with their lives - no fussing, whining, excuse making or patting themselves on the back: You did what you had to do, were grateful for the good things in life, taught your children about hard work, love and respect - the rest took care of itself. Congratulations to Daniel James Brown for seeing the value in this story and in the man who walked it. And congratulations to Daughter Judy for making it possible for it to all come together. Fantastic story; fantastic presentation.
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on May 16, 2015
I'm not someone who follows sports and that's why I wanted to write a review of The Boys in the Boat. It's a story of endurance, hope, trust and perseverance which even non-sports fans will appreciate. I was totally mesmerized by the backstory leading up to the American gold in crew at the 1936 Olympics in Germany. I loved reading about Joe Rantz and the other team members and their dedication to each other. I also found the information about Hitler's pre-war maneuvers to dupe the world into believing that his intentions were honorable interesting and so sad. If only... And amazingly, what I learned about rowing makes me want to see it in action! If you read and loved Unbroken you should absolutely read The Boys in The Boat. Both are true stores that read like well-written novels with characters you sympathize with and root for. I hope a movie is made about Joe and the boys!
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on November 1, 2015
Read this book! You will not be sorry. First, thank you book group for choosing a book I would never pick on my own! I am not that interested in sports, I don't really enjoy stories or movies about sports and athletes, and all I know about crew is that it looks lovely and graceful. Yet I give this book a glowing five stars. High praise indeed for a book I dreaded reading.
This is the story of the young men who rowed for University of Washington and went on to Olympic greatness. You learn about rowing and boats but also about what it takes to be a champion, on and off the water. The athlete's story runs parallel to the story of the rise of Hitler and his efforts to fool the world into thinking that Germany is a safe and non-threatening place. The writing is interesting and fast paced. Mr. Brown does an excellent job of evoking emotions. I was on the edge of my seat reading the details of the Olympic race, despite knowing the outcome!
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