Avid audible listener for over 10 years.
I was not sure that I would like this book when I bought it, but turned out loving it. Although I do not want to give away the ending, the seeds of Hitler's destruction could no better be summarized by the results of the 1936 olympic race. As much as the Nazi's tried to fix the results of the race, the sheer heart of the rowers win out and with it foretell the outcome of WW II. There was no doubt that Germany would lose the race and the war.
I was skeptical of using a credit for a book about rowing.
The only thing I really knew about athletes of the 1936 Olympic Games was the triumph of Jessie Owens. However, since this book was narrated by Edward Herman, one of my all time favorite readers, I decided to give the book a listen.
What unfolds is a very ambitious and largely very successful effort to bring the listener into the world of post depression era life and the world of competitive 8-man rowing.
Daniel Brown builds his story around the amazing life of Joe Rantz, a young boy abandoned by his family who finds his life forever changed by his experiences as a member of a college rowing team.
The passion that Daniel Brown brings to his subject matter is perfectly matched by the flawless Edward Herman narration.
This being said, the book is not without its flaws...the primary one being the author's tendency to allow his narrative to become overly saccharine at times. This is really a criticism of the tone of the book, not the content.
On the very positive side, the listener will find themselves completely drawn into to the characters lives and to the work and skills needed to succeed at competitive rowing.
This is a decidedly American story of ordinary young men who accomplish great things
and change the world and themselves in the process.
It is easy to be disheartened by the economy, world events and the drudgery of getting through each day. The book Boys in the Boat reminded me to be thankful for the security, comfort and abundance that I take for granted most of the time. Thank you Daniel James Brown for telling the story of these amazing men who did the impossible during a time where hard work did not guarantee that you and your family would have a place to live or food to eat. Brown's mastery of story-telling brings to life the world as it was in the 1930's. The hardships of the Great Depression endured by millions of Americans and the changes that were occurring in Germany make the ultimate triumph of the University of Washington crew team of 1936 shine as bright in today's cynical world as it must have done then. Edward Hermann's beautiful narration could not have been better.
The combination of a compelling story well-told and perfectly matched narration made my heart swell with pride and reminded me that all-in-all, things aren't so bad. Listen and be inspired.
The story of Joe is so compelling. Many people today will never experience the struggle of those individuals. What a life they lived. Thanks for sharing that life experience.
The story carried an easily understood time line through an historical time.
Joe is our silent hero.
I hope I'll find another audible book as good as this one.
I plan to listen to the book at least several more times in the coming months. The story weaves together the elements of the Great Depression, Nazism on the rise, the 1936 Berlin Games, the science and ART of rowing, etc. The real deal closer for me is the Edward Hermann narration. No one is better than Edward Hermann and this is the perfect book for him.
George Pocock - a fascinating man that understood men, craftsmanship, and the art of rowing.
No. But I cannot believe it can get any better than this.
The Boys in the Boat: A Story of Unbroken Spirit and the 1936 Olympics
As good as it gets on Audible.
Myst/thrillers and ✨fun fantasies✨are my favorites but always open for a good story.
There are many descriptions of this non-fiction read, however, what I found most interesting was that it gave a great deal of history about Washington, Oregon and has a sprinkle of Long Beach thrown in during the depression. It is very informative about what this group of men, their families, and their cities went through during that time. It also included history surrounding Germany's rise to power and how they hid what was actually going on during the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
It is a book about rowing which sounds boring but it is actually interesting and exciting.
While I was reading this book I thought reading books like this is what makes life worth living. Oh I wish I could find more books like this -- exciting, inspirational, struggles, pain, perseverance, heroes.
My favorite quote: Joe’s girlfriend was angry about something done to Joe and said to him “I just don’t understand why you don’t get angry.” Joe said “It takes energy to get angry. It eats you up inside. I can’t waste my energy like that and expect to get ahead. When they left, it took everything I had in me just to survive. Now I have to stay focused. I’ve just got to take care of it myself.”
MY ONE COMPLAINT:
There are pictures in the physical book, but NO PICTURES for audiobook buyers. To the author and publisher: Please include pictures in a PDF file for audio buyers to download.
Fred Hermann was fabulous – clear voice, good interpretations. He reads like he’s interested in what he’s reading. He should do more books.
Narrative mode: 3rd person.
Genre: nonfiction, sports history.
Loved reading about local(for me) history. A bit over dramatized. Totally irritating that the narrator did not take the time to learn how to pronounce the names of towns bad neighborhoods. Repeating the name of the local newspaper over and over again and pronouncing it incorrectly was like nails on a chalk board. If you didn't know the correct pronunciations you will love it.
The way he pronounced the names of places was irritating to me because I knew how they were supposed to be pronounced
The historical detail is fantastic. Although, if you're not from the Pacific Northwest, and generally familiar with the area, I could see it becoming tedious. The story is generally an interesting one, and the author propels it forward well. The language can be a bit overwrought and oddly pseudo-spiritual at times. My main complaint is this- the narrator does an otherwise great job, but in a book in which geographic detail and place description is at the heart of the story, he mispronounces way too many place names. Way too many. It can be very distracting.
I'm just a dumb troglodyte who like reading. Me feel good after I read book.
Boys in the Boat (BITB) is a powerful and entertaining book that allows the reader/listener to forget their reading non-fiction. The story brings together a confluence of historical events that make for an intriguing story: the Great Depression, the sport of crewing at its height of popularity, Berlin's 1936 Olympics, and the impending start of WWII. Author, Daniel James Brown, writes with a certain sense of ease and realism that conjures up the spirit of the times.
As a reader, I gained a much greater understanding and respect the sport of crewing upon reading BITB. Brown does an outstanding of reviewing the history of crewing, the athletic efforts needed to be a part of a crew team, comradely needed to be a successful crew team, and the strategy needed to win races. Equally gripping was the explanations about how families survived day to day during the Great Depression. Brown also tells the personal stories of the University Washington crew members, which allows the reader a very personal interaction the subject matter. All of these elements are seamlessly woven together to identify the country's emerging character that would dominate the post WWII area and be termed by Tom Brokaw as the "greatest generation".
Brown's best work is spent detailing the propaganda efforts on the behalf of Hitler, Leni Riefenstahl, and German Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, who attempted to use the spectacle of the 1936 Olympics to support their fantasies of racial superiority. Brown's research and spot-on storytelling brings the story to an exciting climax.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading/listening to BITB for the characters, story, and historical significance. Reportedly, the movie rights have been sold to Miramax, which Kenneth Branagh is scheduled to direct. In my rank order system of the 64 books I have over the last two year, BITB lands in the 12th position.