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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 December 12, 2017
Wonderful novel based on a true story of local boy made good. It was meaningful to me because I am a native of the area and it brought back many memories. The University of Washington's legendary rowing program provides the backdrop for the story. The book explores many of the challenges faced by early residents of the Pacific Northwest. A very inspiring and personal story that I enjoyed sharing with my adult children. Pierce County, where I live, selected this book and author for their annual "Read" program. Community members read the book. held local discussions, and had an opportunity to meet the author locally.If you like learning about history through a good story, this is the book for you.
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on November 6, 2016
I am not a rower, and I admit that I read this book for a school assignment. School assignment aside, I fell in love with this book. During a time when 10 million Americans were unemployed, an underdog crew team from the University of Washington defied the odds and won gold at the 1936 Olympics. While the University of Washington had a history of producing impressive teams, it lacked the resources and connections of wealthier schools. The lives of Joe Rantz, Don Hume, Bobby Moch, Al Ulbrickson, Tom Bolles, George Yeoman Pocock and several other individuals come together seamlessly through Brown’s writing. Rantz is the main character in this book, and the book begins with Brown meeting a dying Rantz before transitioning back in time to Rantz’s first semester of college. With a stepmother who wanted him out of her home and a father that did not want to lose his second wife, Rantz was cast out on his own and left to fend for himself at a young age, and he struggled to put himself through college. Sections on Ulbrickson’s struggle to produce a winning team and sections on Hitler and Goebbels planning the Berlin Olympics illustrate the long and pivotal road to the crew team events. The University of Washington’s first Olympic crew win alongside the defeat of the German, Italian, and Japanese teams foreshadows the defeat of the Axis powers in World War II. The bond between the University of Washington rowers did not end after the Olympics, as the team members remained close friends for the rest of their lives. Their story inspires University of Washington students today, and serves as a reminder that victory is possible even when the odds are stacked against you. This is a fast read, as you will not be able to put this book down.
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on December 31, 2014
I read the book on the advice of multiple friends. It's subject in which I had little interest and about which even less knowledge. After reading the book I am looking for crew races to watch. This is an extraordinary sports story, to be sure, but so much more. We learn about the amazing growing-up experiences of Joe Rantz, we see the pride, skill and wisdom of a master boatbuilder, we witness a beautiful love story, and we experience the chill of pre-war Nazi Germany. Brown does a good enough job of describing some of the races that you get really excited about what happens next (even though you already have a pretty good idea). Brown has pulled together this story from interviews, newspaper research and one presumes from some excellent imagining of what went on even though there's no record. Only the reader with the hardest heart won't occasionally have a tear in his or her eyes.
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on June 30, 2015
When it comes to reading books about sportsmanship and athletic accomplishment, it seems like the most inspiring tales come from the first half of the twentieth century, when athletic competition was primarily motivated by personal ambition and grit, not the "big bucks" that professional sports generate today. Seabiscuit, Louis Zamperini. Joe Lewis, Jesse Owens all come to mind....and now I have been inspired by the 1936 University of Washington rowing crew , aka "The Boys in the Boat" and their stunning performance while in the shadow of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Daniel James Brown does a wonderful job in writing an engrossing account describing the Washington Huskies' rowing accomplishments in Berlin and in their lives in general. Although the account circles around Washington rower Joe Rantz and how he overcame his hardships to go on to Olympic glory, there is an equal focus on not only the other rowers, but also the coaches (i.e. Al Ulbrickson, Tom Bolles, Ky Ebright), the boatmakers (George Pocock) and other individuals who made these feats possible. Brown thus shows the value of teamwork in and out of the boat, and the hardy and talented individuals who made it all possible. According to the author, this is what Joe Rantz wanted written all along, and if that's the case, mission accomplished.

As far as the historical documentation included here, I have read many accounts (both fictional and non-fictional) and memoirs addressing the rise of Adolf Hitler and the atrocities committed during his regime. This, however, adds a new dimension to my reading list in that it delved into the propaganda surrounding the 1936 Berlin Olympics and how such propaganda can falsely influence the world. It is also a fascinating exploration of sports not only as a physical activity and entertainment, but a source of national pride and display of power.

But most importantly, this is an inspiring read that made me want to get up and cheer along with all the spectators from bygone days....and it is a wonderful tribute to those Boys in the Boat.
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on August 8, 2014
I'm seventy years old. I was an oarsman in an eight. It is one of the highlights of my life. I loved this book. It brought back so many memories. Mr. Brown knows rowing, and must love it as I do, or he could never have so beautifully shared its soul. Most athletes today spend a large part of their youth preparing to arrive in college as a finished participant in a given sport. Most crew members have never seen a shell until they try out for crew. There are no formative private and privileged coaching sessions before college. Only hard work and raw athletic ability forge a competitive crew. Many of these men have already taken the measure of adversity and found it wanting. This is a poetically rendered story of such a man and his fellow crew members. It moved me to tears as I joyously celebrated their victories over competitors and their triumphs in life. Give this to your children.
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on September 4, 2016
I had watched a documentary on public television and heard about their story and the book. This story intrigued me and I wanted to know more. The book was well written and the details that could not be explored in the Doc. were fully researched and explored in Daniel James Brown's very well-written book. The growing up years for Joe Rantz were heartbreaking and initially made me very uncomfortable. The fact that he used all
his struggles to survive and grow stronger gives credence to the hard work life requires of all of us. His journey was filled with much disappointment and many hungry days and nights. That hunger, I believe, helped him to become the man we hear about. I thought about his journey in college and that was not addressed as much as I would have liked. Being a college graduate, I know each class, each failure and low grade can take one down and he did not seem to want to go down that road. The belief in his strength by the coach when he was still in high school appears to be a defining moment. And those types of moments are what makes this story compelling and believable. The facts about Hitlers maneuvering was quite revealing and added much to the history therein contained throughout the whole story. I would recommend this book to anyone who is seeking to fulfill their dreams. It is ironic, that I was watching the 2016 Rio Olympics as I was reading this story.
It is beautiful in the way the lives of these young men were, presented and the words painted full images for me. Cudos to the author and to the many men and women who have chosen to crew in a very tough sport. I have a friend who did that at USC and my son at Humboldt, both trained in the bay of Los Angeles and Humboldt Bay - lots of hazards in that sport. Again, I would encourage many to read this beautiful story. It gave me a whole new perspective on the passion,dedication, love and hard work in the Olympics, and for all the sports and all the athletes from all over the world.
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on November 10, 2015
Every once in awhile I get immersed in a book, dole it out so I don't finish too quickly, and regret when it is over. The Boys in the Boat fits that description! It is fundamentally a true, incredibly researched story of nine guys - a "ragtag" band of college students when compared to their wealthier cohorts - who rowed an eight man racing shell to victory in the 1936 Olympics. These Olympics were held in Berlin, Germany, and were meant to showcase to the rest of the world that Germany was a pleasant, powerful, and inclusive place. It was all propaganda. The book focuses on three areas, the first being rowing itself, which is an incredibly difficult sport totally reliant on precision teamwork. I will never look at rowing crews or their boats the same. The second focus throughout the book was on one of the rowers, Joe Rantz. His story of abandonment, deprivation, and search for meaning alone would have carried a book. The third focus was the tyranny of Hitler and what was happening in Germany. The author weaves these three elements in and out beautifully. All I am waiting for now is the inevitable movie which is already being pursued.
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on April 8, 2015
I was excited to discover that this book will be made into a movie. I hope the movie does the book justice: it was extraordinary. It was a delight being able to learn about rowing and getting to know the team members of the Olympic champions! Turns out I worked with Bobby Mack at a law firm in Seattle, Washington. Mr. Mack was an enjoyable person, fair to all, a great lawyer. Not only did the novice, me, learn about rowing, but I received an entirely new perspective of WWII and the German culture of the time - or lack of culture when one considers the Nazi party. But the way the author went back and forth from the rowing story to what was going on in the world story, was seamless. If ever there was a non-fiction must-read, this is it.
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on November 4, 2016
A difficult subject for the author to write about--the very title implies prejudice. But this is just clear history. He writes how the London Government in the 1700s sent their street riff raff, prison inmates, unemployed beggers, etc. on to the boats and over to colonize America. They were encouraged by the richer New England American colonizers to look for wide open land west of the Appalachians, , falling the timber, clearing the woods and forests for farming, and killing or chasing away the Indians who occupied the land. Speculators from England followed them later, and pushed these "white trash" homesteaders father west, speculating on the now cleared territories for the next wave of "more rightful"educated inmigrantes.

Many of these "low class" Englanders moved south also and didn't mix well with the aristocratic plantation slaveholders, and became southern
"crackers" , hillbillies, and homesteaders, evolving in what he calls today Trailer Park people. .

The rest of the book explains how this original "white trash" has been treated by the upper classes of America and goes on to show how Presidents Lynden Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and many other now famous Americans rose above their lowly small farming town upbringing, sometimes even in their political election campaigns emphasizing their "white trash" beginning.

. .
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