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The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

by

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics Cover

 

Awards

Staff Pick

Brown masterfully narrates the tale of the 1936 American Olympic rowing team and their gold medal triumph. He paints a vivid picture of the men in the boat, their world, and their sport. A fascinating glimpse into a bygone era.
Recommended by Mary Jo, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

For readers of Laura Hillenbrand's Seabiscuit and Unbroken, the dramatic story of the American rowing team that stunned the world at Hitler's 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Daniel James Brown’s robust book tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans. The sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the boys defeated elite rivals first from eastern and British universities and finally the German crew rowing for Adolf Hitler in the Olympic games in Berlin, 1936.

The emotional heart of the story lies with one rower, Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not for glory, but to regain his shattered self-regard and to find a place he can call home. The crew is assembled by an enigmatic coach and mentored by a visionary, eccentric British boat builder, but it is their trust in each other that makes them a victorious team. They remind the country of what can be done when everyone quite literally pulls together — a perfect melding of commitment, determination, and optimism.

Drawing on the boys’ own diaries and journals, their photos and memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, The Boys in the Boat is an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times — the improbable, intimate story of nine working-class boys from the American west who, in the depths of the Great Depression, showed the world what true grit really meant. It will appeal to readers of Erik Larson, Timothy Egan, James Bradley, and David Halberstam's The Amateurs.

Review:

"A remarkable book...hard to put down." The Seattle Times

Review:

"A triumph of great writing matched with a magnificent story. Daniel James Brown strokes the keyboard like a master oarsman, blending power and grace to propel readers toward a heart-pounding finish. In Joe Rantz and his crewmates, Brown has rediscovered true American heroes who remind us that pulling together is the surest path to glory." Mitchell Zuckoff, author of Lost in Shangri-La and Frozen in Time

Review:

"In 1936 nine working-class American boys burst from their small towns into the international limelight, unexpectedly wiping the smile off Adolph Hitler's face by beating his vaunted German team to capture the Olympic gold medal. Daniel James Brown has written a robust, emotional snapshot of an era, a book you will recommend to your best friends." James Bradley, author of Flags of our Fathers and Flyboys

Review:

"A lovingly crafted saga of sweat and idealism that raised goosebumps from the first page. I was enthralled by the story's play of light and shadow, of mortality and immortality, and its multidimensional recreation of the pursuit of excellence. This meditation on human frailty and possibility sneaks up on you until it rushes past with the speed of an eight-oared boat." Laurence Bergreen, author of Columbus and Over the Edge of the World

Review:

"The Boys in the Boat is not only a great and inspiring true story; it is a fascinating work of history." Nathaniel Philbrick, author of Mayflower and In the Heart of the Sea

Review:

"Daniel Brown's book tells the dramatic story of the crew that set the stage for Seattle emerging as a world-class city. Their lives define the tradition that is still University of Washington rowing today." Bob Ernst, director of rowing, University of Washington

About the Author

Daniel James Brown is the author of two previous nonfiction books, Under a Flaming Sky and The Indifferent Stars Above. He has taught writing at San Jose State University and Stanford. He lives near Seattle.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

Colorado Jess, January 3, 2014 (view all comments by Colorado Jess)
This book exceeded my expectations by a lot! Fasten your seatbelt and hang on for an amazing ride through a time of dustbowls, shantytowns, and abject poverty juxtaposed next to the blue-blood sport of rowing. What makes this so inspiring is that we get to follow a group of University of Washington guys go from being poor farmers, loggers, and fishermen to first class rowers despite their backgrounds. This is set during the time leading up to and during the Olympics of 1936 when Hitler and his ego wanted so badly to win.
I would put this in the same league of writing as Unbroken. That good!
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(4 of 7 readers found this comment helpful)
RockShadow, October 2, 2013 (view all comments by RockShadow)
Spellbinding and inspirational story of nine golden boys and their times, for both rowers and non-rowers like me. Loved learning details about the Pacific Northwest, Seattle, and the athletes during depression years. The background of the 1936 Olympic Games in Germany was well done, with a different angle of looking on those times. I found the insight into racer selection very interesting, but, of course, the personal stories of the athletes will stay with me forever!
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(3 of 5 readers found this comment helpful)
techeditor, July 12, 2013 (view all comments by techeditor)
Although its subtitle implies that THE BOYS IN THE BOAT is about the American eight-oar rowing crew in the 1936 Olympics, the book is more than that. It's mostly about what led to the formation of the crew. Also, the story is made personal by its concentration on one of the boys, Joe Rantz.

If THE BOYS IN THE BOAT was fiction, I wouldn't have enjoyed it. That's because the whole thing is so unlikely: Joe overcame such odds in his personal life. None of the boys came from money when they suddenly emerged from Seattle, a city few were familiar with then, to beat the prestigious Eastern schools (e.g., Yale and Harvard). The boat and the boys dealt with several disadvantages in Germany, both before and during their races, only to beat their competition. None of this story would be believable if I didn't know it was true.

Throughout this book, juxtaposed against Joe's and the boys' story is Hitler's creation of the fictional Germany that he wanted to present to the world during the Olympics there. As he hides the real Germany, the US ignores him, and the boys and other athletes just work on getting there.

When the story was over, I didn't want it to be over. So I read the endnotes. You'll probably do that, too.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780670025817
Subtitle:
Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Author:
Brown, Daniel James
Author:
Herrmann, Edward
Publisher:
Viking
Subject:
Olympics
Subject:
US History - 20th Century
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
20130604
Binding:
Hardcover
Language:
English
Pages:
432
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 1 lb

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Related Subjects

Featured Titles » Arts
Featured Titles » Bestsellers
Featured Titles » Biography
Featured Titles » Culture
Featured Titles » General
Featured Titles » New Arrivals
Featured Titles » New Arrivals » Nonfiction
History and Social Science » US History » 20th Century » General
History and Social Science » World History » General
Sports and Outdoors » Sports and Fitness » Olympics
Sports and Outdoors » Sports and Fitness » Rowing
Sports and Outdoors » Sports and Fitness » Sports General
Sports and Outdoors » Sports and Fitness » Water Sports » General
Transportation » Nautical » Boats » Boating
Transportation » Nautical » General

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics New Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$28.95 In Stock
Product details 432 pages Viking - English 9780670025817 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Brown masterfully narrates the tale of the 1936 American Olympic rowing team and their gold medal triumph. He paints a vivid picture of the men in the boat, their world, and their sport. A fascinating glimpse into a bygone era.

"Review" by , "A remarkable book...hard to put down."
"Review" by , "A triumph of great writing matched with a magnificent story. Daniel James Brown strokes the keyboard like a master oarsman, blending power and grace to propel readers toward a heart-pounding finish. In Joe Rantz and his crewmates, Brown has rediscovered true American heroes who remind us that pulling together is the surest path to glory."
"Review" by , "In 1936 nine working-class American boys burst from their small towns into the international limelight, unexpectedly wiping the smile off Adolph Hitler's face by beating his vaunted German team to capture the Olympic gold medal. Daniel James Brown has written a robust, emotional snapshot of an era, a book you will recommend to your best friends."
"Review" by , "A lovingly crafted saga of sweat and idealism that raised goosebumps from the first page. I was enthralled by the story's play of light and shadow, of mortality and immortality, and its multidimensional recreation of the pursuit of excellence. This meditation on human frailty and possibility sneaks up on you until it rushes past with the speed of an eight-oared boat."
"Review" by , "The Boys in the Boat is not only a great and inspiring true story; it is a fascinating work of history."
"Review" by , "Daniel Brown's book tells the dramatic story of the crew that set the stage for Seattle emerging as a world-class city. Their lives define the tradition that is still University of Washington rowing today."
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