The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown


A wonderful book about a group of young men who persevere and overcome major obstacles to become the US Olympic 8-man rowing team in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. This is a well researched book in which the author was fortunate to have been able to interview one of the last two remaining members of that team, Joe Rantz. We follow the story of Joe from childhood, from his mothers death to his fathers remarriage, to the time his family moved and he was left behind to fend for himself. What a remarkable story of overcoming adversity, and then we get into the story of the University of Washington crew team and the group of athletes who became part of the 1935 Freshman crew and how they spent those intervening 3 years. There were no scholarships and most all of these men had to work over the summer to earn the money to pay their way through each semester of college – one year Joe even worked blasting away rock for the construction of the Grand Coulee Dam! We get to meet these young men, and the author does a great job of detailing the highlights and lowlights of their careers. The triumphs and tragedies and all the obstacles that stood in their way. We get to follow their rivalry with Cal, go with them to Poughkeepsie for 3 years as part of the collegiate rowing championships, and then in 1936 to Princeton for the Olympic trials and finally onto Berlin where they once again had to overcome many hurdles in that Olympic final event. Great writing, great stories and it teaches that the sum of the whole is greater than any one individual. A great and inspirational read!

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