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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. 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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on October 12, 2017
The Boys in the Boat is an exceptional book. It tells the story of the nine young men who competed for gold in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Even though the book title refers to "the boys", it really is the story about just one of those boys in particular, Joe Rantz. The book follows Joe's story from a young boy all the way through the Olympics, and along the way we meet an excellent cast of characters - his eight compatriots, family members, coaches, and even a few of the Nazi bad guys.

Brown does a great job of not only telling a great story, but infusing it with just the right amount of detail to give you a great picture of the various scenes. His descriptions of the racing venues, living quarters, even the weather, set the scene without belaboring the point.

In addition to the expected history lesson of the 1936 Olympic in Berlin and some of the surrounding controversy and politics, I was fascinated by the history of the sport of rowing, and learned a great deal of fascinating information. I did not know the the sport of rowing was a hugely popular spectator sport, often drawing crowds as large as 100,000 people! I gained a huge appreciation for the sport, the dedication and sacrifice required of its participants, and the craftsmanship that goes into the building of the boats themselves.

All of that would have warranted a good review. But the way all the history, personalities, political landscape, and lifelong dreams come together in the final race for gold at the end of the book is nothing short of riveting. I was glued to my seat reading the description of that climactic race; just as good as any thriller.

Finally, I loved the pictures that were peppered throughout the book, as well as the epilogue, which recounts the remainder of the life of each participant.

Great book.

---------------
I noticed Amazon and Goodreads have a slightly different meanings to their 5-point scale. I thought it was odd to have a different rating for the same book on two different sites, so I came up with my own scale below. For the record, it is fairly close to Amazon's scale, but allows me to be consistent between both sites.

5 - Fantastic. Life-altering. Maybe only 25 in a lifetime.
4 - Very good.
3 - Worth your time.
2 - Not very good.
1 - Atrocious
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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 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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on May 30, 2017
Being a constant reader of books I,feel somewhat qualified to recommend something of value. Therefore I choose to list this wonderful story as one of my all time favorites. I often wondered how a book about rowing could be on the "best seller list" and I ignored reading it for a long time. I'm not sure what finally tempted me to include it in my Amazon selection but I am very excited about it now. Please give it a try as it is about people who hardly seem to exist anymore. Real people, and real lives with honest values and determination to reach for the stars.
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on March 24, 2017
At first I was not impressed with the book, and in fact at one point I relegated it, partially read, to the electronic book shelf. Looking for something to read, and without internet access, I reluctantly got it back out. I was instantly mesmerized by the character development, and the story line suddenly became very interesting, I was hooked.
I read the book every spare moment that I had and was actually brought to tears during parts.
I loved the way the story was woven into world events of the time, a perfect blend of a feel good story with dark events of the world.
I could go on and on, but let me just say, I read probably 15 - 30 books a year and this was the best book I ever read, I hope it is made into a movie.
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on August 11, 2017
The last couple of chapters had me "cheering"!
A remarkable story...and it was all captured by Hitler's "mistress", Lens Rifensthall I don't know the correct spelling of her name. She had the cameras
on the finish line and there it was "the victory" captured for all to see.
The young men in this book were "Americans" from simple backgrounds and rose to staggering heights through rigorous training and impossible
odds. Makes you proud to be an American.
Hitler's team was "bested"...great!
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on September 23, 2013
I just finished reading Daniel James Brown's *The Boys in the Boat* and, in-between typing letters, I'm wiping the tears away from my face. This book is just wonderful. The pacing - the slow building from a humble beginning to a triumphant finish - is beautifully-matched to the story it tells. This is a book about the magic of the boat, the crew of young men from the University of Washington that oared it, and the champion Olympic team they created together. This is a story of individuals going beyond what they could each do alone, and coming together to form the powerful and invincible American crew team that rowed in front of Hitler at the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin, and won the gold.

Interwoven with the story of Joe Rantz - one of the "boys in the boat" - is the story of what was happening in Nazi Germany in the 1930's - the rise of Hitler and his NAZI party, the politicking and rivalries, and the targeting of those the Nazis labeled "undesirables." There is heart-wrenching tragedy in these pages. And, beyond the tragedy, there is incredible inspiration.

My dad is of the same generation as the "boys in the boat" - born in 1918 (four years after Joe Rantz), and a pole vaulter for the University of Washington after the war. He's still active at 95. As I was reading Joe's story, I couldn't help but wonder if Dad and Joe ever crossed paths at the UW, or as they tromped around in the mountains of Washington State.

Talking about the generation that produced the "boys in the boat" and those who fought in World War II, Brown writes: "They are almost all gone now - the legions of young men who saved the world in the years just before I was born. But that afternoon, standing on the balcony of Haus West, I was swept with gratitude for their goodness and their grace, their humility and their honor, their simple civility and all the things they taught us before they flitted across the evening water and finally vanished into the night."

Karen Molenaar Terrell
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on July 8, 2017
What a wonderful book. An acquaintance recommended it but I hesitated to read a book about rowing which I knew nothing about. I am so glad I followed his advice. This book is not about rowing, it is about so much more. It is about over coming unbelievable hardship to survive, it is about sometimes you get what you need not what you want, it is about letting go of demons so you can get to the place you are destined to be. I could go on but I will not do this book justice. It is one of those few books that come along and you will think of again and again. Wonderful!!
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on March 24, 2017
I seldom read non fiction, opting in most cases for thrillers and mysteries. On impulse, I decided to give this book a chance, without great expectations. A great decision!! Even knowing the outcome did not diminish the excitement of the quest, and weaving the story of Hitler's rise to power during the 1936 Olympics captured the irony of his policies. The "boys" were unbreakable and truly inspirational through some very difficult times, not the least of which was surviving the Great Depression. The story of Joe Rantz should be required reading at some time during the education process...
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