The Boys in the Boat

The Boys in the Boat

Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

Large Print - 2013
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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."

Publisher: Waterville, Maine : Thorndike Press, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning, 2013.
Edition: Large print edition.
ISBN: 9781410459541
Branch Call Number: Large Print 797.1230973
Characteristics: 743 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm


From Library Staff

February 04, 2017

From the critics

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Sep 08, 2018

I wasn't expecting to like this as much as I did! First of all, I'm not into books that seem overly American to me and also, I don't know a thing about rowing. However, this book changed my mind. I liked the American-ness of it - it's actually more of a rivalry between the East and West Coast and also between California and Washington, and not so much about US being superior to every other nation. (Although they did win at the Olympics, which I thought was awesome, even though I'm not American.) The best part was that this was during the Great Depression, and these boys had to work hard ... not just for rowing, but for life. They overcame all of their challenges. They persevered till the end. I had a great respect for them after reading this. It's a really inspiring book.

There was also a lot about what was going on in Germany at this time, which I thought was well done. It puts everything into a more global perspective.

As for rowing, it made me want to start watching it. Each race was written in an exciting way; I never got tired of it.

This was really well written and entertaining. I recommend it for anyone. I'm glad I read it for my book club otherwise I probably would have never picked it up, and it's worth reading for sure.

Jul 18, 2018

This book is very, very well written. When he describes the races, I found myself rocking back and forth to help them row faster! It's exciting, educational, and at times relatable. I would definitely recommend this book!

plymc_linda Jun 05, 2018

Excellent! A true story about setting high goals, working hard and beating insurmountable odds to make it happen. A real feel good book, reminiscent of the theme in one of my favorite movies, Rudy!

PiPhi_1 May 25, 2018

Favorite read, great for book club discussion

May 12, 2018

Very good bordering on excellent. A tad bit dry and drawn-out in the Boys' early college years but overall a very enjoyable and enlightening read.

Apr 23, 2018

In many ways this is a Pulitzer Prize winner given the superior storytelling. We immerse into the world of skull racing which eventually takes us to the Berlin Olympics during the Nazi occupation. While not focused entirely on Joe Rantz, his story inspires by his ability to become mentally tough, find joy and be compassionate while learning the underlying elements of teamwork. Fast paced, illuminating and well crafted, this is a book that opens our eyes, hearts and minds to possibility. Highly recommended!

Apr 09, 2018

Rivetingly written - although one knows about the Olympic success, it is still a page turner

Jan 11, 2018

Amazing book! The writing is so good that I was attracted to keep reading to find out what happened next. Highly recommend!

Oct 08, 2017

Fantastic Book! I was so excited-it kept my focus every bit of the way through.

Librarian_Deb Sep 29, 2017

This profile of the nine young men who represented the US in rowing at the 1936 Olympics is so much more than just a sports story. As it digs into the lives of these young men, especially Joe Rantz, the reader gets a vivid picture of life in the Seattle area during the 1930's. Events like the building of the Grand Coulee dam - where Joe works during the summer to earn tuition for college -- become memorable parts of the story, which is of course mostly about rowing. Yet even a non-rowing fan like me got sucked into that aspect of the book as well - as the author gave excellent profiles of Al Ulbrickson, their taciturn coach and George Pocock, the master boat maker. And knowing much about Joe Rantz's backstory which included being practically abandoned by his family when he was young made me want to root for his success. Becoming emotionally involved with the characters helped, but the author also skillfully described the actual races in such a way that the tension was palpable. I was on the edge of my seat - so to speak - wondering if the boys were going to pull of a win and how they were going to do it. When they get to take the trip of a lifetime to the Berlin Olympics more fascinating history is included - such as how the film producer Leni Riefenstahl was heavily involved in filming Hitler's ultimate propaganda piece for the world. I learned so much about history from this book and it made me think about the lessons we can learn from the past. We talked about that a lot when our book group discussed this title and it was one of our most memorable discussions. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys history, sports and stories about over coming obstacles.

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Jan 02, 2017

“It doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down,” he told his daughter, Marilynn. “What matters is how many times you get up.” - page 233

Jan 02, 2017

"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, something that once revealed would make him doubt himself, make him falter just when it counted the most. Like so much in life, crew was partly about confidence, partly about knowing your heart." - page 106

WVMLlibrarianTara Nov 26, 2014

“What mattered more than how hard a man rowed was how well everything he did in the boat harmonized with what the other fellows were doing. And a man couldn’t harmonize with his crewmates unless he opened his heart to them. He had to care about his crew.”


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Oct 18, 2014

A timeless story of perseverance, of survival in a world full of obstacles. Joe Rantz faced abandonment by his family, putting himself through college, the dust bowl and great depression, and ultimately Hitler's influence in athletic competition. But his biggest obstacle at times was himself. Finally becoming a reliable piece of a cohesive whole, he and his crewmates lifted the Husky Clipper off the surface of the water, to the rafters of Washington's shellhouse, and into history.


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