Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Boys in the Boat by Danial James Brown


Book:  The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and their epic quest for gold at the 1936 Olympics. 

Author:  Daniel James Brown 

Grade:  A 

Recommended to:  Everyone. This is a non-fiction must read. 

I can't say enough good things about this book.  The Boys in the Boat is the story of the Washington team that rowed their way to victory at the 1936 Olympics.   The story is primarily told from the viewpoint of Joe Rantz, one of the boys in the boat.

I know nothing about rowing.  And, I always thought that rowing was one of those sports for eastern uppity colleges. This book taught me a lot about rowing without being boring, the fatal flaw of non-fiction writing.

 This story is very American.  It is a book of struggle, perseverance, and it is the exact opposite of my perception of rowing.  The Washington boys all came from rough beginnings.  They worked long hours at crappy jobs to pay for college, aced their classes in order to stay on the rowing team, and rowed in freezing rain, snow, and ice to become the world champions.  That sounds like a spoiler, but it isn't.  There's zero chance that Mr. Brown would have written about these boys if they had failed to make it to the Olympics.  

One of the best parts of this book is Mr. Brown's ability to capture the suspense of a rowing race.  He is inside the head of the coxswain and the rowers.   He writes as though the reader is there listening to the race on the radio or watching on television.  It is an incredibly talent that is particularly useful in sports stories, especially racing sports.  I couldn't put this book down, especially during a race sequence.

The book also included short chapters about the enormous propaganda campaign waged by Hitler, Goebbels, and a filmmaker that I hadn't heard of, Leni Riefenstahl, who created an entire Olympics to fool the world into believing that Germany was peaceful.  Those portions of the story were also extremely well written.

In my opinion, this book rivals the big non-fiction thrillers, Unbroken and The Devil in the White City.  This book is at least equal in quality and caliber, if not better.  I absolutely recommend it to everyone looking for a good sports story

I'm sorry for the massive delay in posts and updates.  I'm going to write a bunch of posts tonight and slowly release them, so hopefully I don't get behind again!   We have been very busy with the house and work has picked up.  So, I'm definitely going to make this blog a priority again!

Let me know what you think of The Boys in the Boat and Happy Reading!

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