Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

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

Find out more about this book and author:
Twitter @DJamesBrown
Currently on tour: see if he will be in your town (here)

Published: 2013
Publisher: Viking
Genre: History, Sports
Hardback: 416 pages
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
This book was born on a cold, drizzly, late spring day when I clambered over the split-rail cedar fence that surrounds my pasture and made my way through wet woods to the modest frame house where Joe Rantz lay dying.

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.


My two-bits:

Absolutely inspiring!

This is one of those reads where the underdog prevails despite all the odds. The journey up to the moment of the win had nail-biting moments.

Loved the coaches and mentors who brought out the best in the individuals.

And, loved how this book encompassed all aspects of the time period from across the sea as well as at the boy's university.

About the author:
Daniel James Brown fell in love with the written word when he was five and his mother first read Danny and the Dinosaur to him. Since then he has earned a BA in English from the University of California at Berkeley and an MA in English from UCLA. He has taught writing at San Jose State University and Stanford University and now lives in the country east of Redmond, Washington, where he writes nonfiction books about compelling historical events.


* listened to the audio version - definitely recommend

* per imdb the film for this book is currently in development stage

* added this to my Books On The Nightstand Bingo challenge (details) - square: Currently on the Bestseller List

* added to my COYER challenge/scavenger hunt (details)


  1. I love books based on real events and this one sounds truly awe-inspiring! Great review!


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