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The Boys in the Boat Audiobook

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

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Publisher's Summary

The #1 New York Times–bestselling story about American Olympic triumph in Nazi Germany, the inspiration for the PBS documentary The Boys of '36, broadcast to coincide with the 2016 Summer Olympics and the 80th anniversary of the boys' gold medal race.

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.

©2013 Daniel James Brown (P)2013 Penguin Audio

What Members Say

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  •  
    Cindy 09-12-14
    Cindy 09-12-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Great story, narrator didn't do his homework."
    Any additional comments?

    Wonderful story, but the narrator made many egregious (too numerous and irritating to be laughable) mispronunciations of Pacific Northwest place names. If you're from Washington state you'll be happier reading it than listening to it. Penguin Books: don't you have editors?

    9 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andy N Mission Viejo, CA 07-04-14
    Andy N Mission Viejo, CA 07-04-14 Member Since 2015
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    "Inspiring story"
    Would you listen to The Boys in the Boat again? Why?

    Yes. While we know how it ends, the journey to get there is worth hearing over and over again.


    What does Edward Herrmann bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    His voice can deliver a story


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    How the seemingly ordinary can be extraordinary


    Any additional comments?

    Despite some over-the-top up turns of phrase and descriptions (think Cold Mountain) that trigger several eye rolls, as well as Edward Herman's tortured pronunciations of Washington place names (not sure that is actually his fault-where was quality control?), the story is just a great one. Growing up in Washington and attending UW, I've always known the story without knowing the STORY. And it's a great one. You can't help but beam with pride and unquestionably admire what these ordinary folks accomplished in some of the toughest times in America.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan PEARLAND, TX, United States 06-24-13
    Susan PEARLAND, TX, United States 06-24-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Exciting true story of courage and determination"
    Would you listen to The Boys in the Boat again? Why?

    Absolutely! This is not a read-to-find-out-what-happens book -- it's charm is in the telling. The people are fascinating, better than fictional characters, the technical detail is interesting, and the narrator is perfect.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    George Pocock, the shell builder. Pocock was an enigmatic artist, the character in the book I would most like to have known.


    What about Edward Herrmann’s performance did you like?

    Herman's voice is smooth and even. His timing is spot-on, and his intonation is just lively enough to avoid monotony, without overpowering the content.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, though it's a little too long for that.


    9 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michele Kellett Seattle, WA United States 08-22-14
    Michele Kellett Seattle, WA United States 08-22-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Narrative Gold"

    It's fairly astonishing that no one has stumbled onto this story before: it is narrative gold. Brown is not the most elegant writer, but he is a diligent researcher, and skillfully moves between the personal and particular, and the grander themes of the Depression and WWII. And, of course, the story is inherently thrilling, full of vivid characters and the vast machinery of history. Yes, we know how the story ends -- but the reader is nonetheless on the edge of his seat throughout.

    One cavil with the otherwise excellent narration: many of the place names in the Northwest are hideously mispronounced. I will grant that "Puyallup" is a challenge (it's "pew-AL-up", not "pile-up") but Alki??? It's "ALK-EYE" not "al-kee", as if an entire neighborhood were deemed a drunk.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jody 08-02-14
    Jody 08-02-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Great Story - Bungled Read"
    What did you like best about this story?

    This is a well-written, highly entertaining and motivating story within a larger story of WWII. Good drama, good character development.


    What three words best describe Edward Herrmann’s performance?

    Please, please - if you are going to read about real geographic locations, correctly pronounce the names. Juan de Fuca, Skagit, Alki on and on - ALL BUNGLED. It's really detracting.


    8 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Van Voris ATTLEBORO, MA, US 06-28-13
    Richard Van Voris ATTLEBORO, MA, US 06-28-13 Member Since 2016
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    "Well rowed Washington,well rowed."
    Where does The Boys in the Boat rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    In the top 5. An inspiring story story,well told. It has it all, suspense, excitement.
    An outstanding narration which matches perfectly the prose.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I loved it all. That sounds like a cliche but in this case it is true.


    Have you listened to any of Edward Herrmann’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I have not heard him before, but it won't be my last, he did a great job.


    Any additional comments?

    As a rower and a boat builder I am glad on of my personal heros,George Pocock is so important in this story. I hope that even if the listener has never rowed a good wooden shell that they will understand the magic. The author and the narrator have done a great job to bring that experience to life.

    10 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kaui 08-30-16
    Kaui 08-30-16 Member Since 2015

    I love to walk and run listening to audiobooks

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    "Historical narrative at its best"
    Any additional comments?

    With the Olympics just past, I thought I would pick up this book, which has languished on my "to read" pile for quite a while. My first comment is that I should have read this book a long time ago! My second comment is that whoever has not read this book should. This is historical narrative at its best. The author thoroughly researched as many perspectives as he could and interleaved them artfully and impartially while ticking his narrative on a perfect pace. The tension towards victory is wound up, released and then rewound with each personal trial Joe faces and each race the boys face. Not only was this book inspirational for athletes, students and humans, but it also honors an era where kids from (desperately) humble origins worked hard and unrelentingly to realize the key goal to getting ahead in America: graduating from college. The backdrop of WWII and its atrocities is deftly included without overwhelming the boys' story. Each race is a nail-biter; each victory a tear-jerker. I deeply enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rich 08-01-16
    Rich 08-01-16 Member Since 2016

    Thoreau's 'Walden' and Ayn Rand's 25th anniversary introduction to 'The Fountainhead' summarize my library well.

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    "The Value of Character, with Oars"

    In her non-fiction bestseller "Quiet", Susan Cain posits that the "culture of character" has all but been replaced by the "culture of personality" in modern-day society: less substance, more veneer. "Boys in the Boat" is a well-told snapshot of that lost culture of character that warrants reading and preservation. This book is all substance.

    The Great Depression. The Dust Bowl. The rise of Hitler's Germany. I wager that whatever trouble you're facing in your current-day life doesn't even compare to the stresses of life for the majority of Americans in the 1930s. To wit: Joe Rantz, abandoned by his broken family as a child and left to fend for himself. He pulled himself up by his own bootstraps and found gold in the heart of the Nazi Olympics.

    It wasn't without help, to be sure. UW's reserved head coach Al Ulbrickson demands his athletes disappoint neither their teammates, nor themselves. And George Yeomans Pocock--a man who shaped not only boats, but young men and the entire sport of rowing with his wisdom and his hand tools--serves also to be a timeless role model for the reader.

    "Boat" is filled with great visuals:
    - Joe "shoveling food into his mouth like hay into a barn"
    - the UW team breathing in unison in 30-degree weather
    - The peculiar icicles on Husky Clipper
    - George Pocock working with cedar, both in the woods and in his shop.
    - The crowd at the opening ceremonies to the Berlin Olympics

    And great pearls of wisdom:
    - Anger takes energy; unaffordable when you have no energy to waste
    - Keep your mind in the boat
    - Water, that enemy of the sport, is simultaneously your friend: keeping you afloat and making you strong
    - All eight men feeling like the weak link, the one who is 'lucky' to be in the company of his oarsmen

    While it's no surprise that crew is an upper-crust sport (i.e., boats aren't cheap), let its blue-collar roots never be forgotten. You needn't be an oarsmen (I'm not) to enjoy this title; Brown does a fine job of introducing the sport in lay terms and increasing the appreciation for the reader.

    Herrman's voice was a great choice by the director of this book, well-suited for the period and theme. The more I think about this title, the more it grows on me: a credit well-spent, no doubt.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    AudioAddict 07-01-16
    AudioAddict 07-01-16

    I can find a book to love in any genre -- a beautifully written classic, an interesting mystery or sci-fi, a trashy romance. Bring it!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Timeless Story of a Great American Triumph"

    STORY (True Historical) - I am not from the Pacific Northwest and I'm not a rowing enthusiast, but this still was a great listen. It is for all Americans who like stories of courage and determination and people who have made their mark in history. The story begins as hopeful boys show up at Washington to try out for the university rowing teams. As the book progresses, the teams are chosen and begin their training. Alternately, you will get a glimpse of Berlin as it prepares to host the 1936 Olympic Games. The book goes back and forth between Berlin and Washington until the final American Olympic team is chosen and travels to Berlin.

    It was interesting to hear details about the sport of rowing which I knew nothing about. I even looked on Wikipedia to see a diagram of the seating positions so I could understand the titles of the different rowers and how they contribute to the overall speed of the boat. What I enjoyed the most was the massive effort made by Hitler and the Nazis to hide the "real Germany" and appear to the world as a beautiful, peaceful Berlin. There was a little too much character development of each of the boys in the boat, but I suppose it contributed to the overall story. The best part of the book, of course, is the end when the Washington rowing team competes for the USA on the world stage. That is followed by an epilogue which updates each boy's life after the games.

    PERFORMANCE - Good job. Some people from Washington complain about mispronunciation of local places. This Texas reviewer didn't notice a thing.

    OVERALL - Recommended for just about anyone. There is no cursing, violence or sex. My only criticism is I thought it moved a little slowly at times.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elle (AKA PlantCrone) in the great NorthWest OREGON 03-02-16

    ELLE aka PlantCrone of the Great Pacific Northwest. I enjoy almost every genre-S/F, Action, Biographies and Histories & Romance

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    "My Favorite Non-Fiction book for Years"

    Inspiring, heart warming and a great listen, "The Boys in the Boat" really got to me. Edward Hermann was the perfect narrator for Daniel Browns story of a group of 17-20 year olds, all of whom strive to be the best at what they are doing. It follows them from Freshmen thru their Senior year as well as also following the evolution of a boatbuilder who refined the wood ships that were then the only ships available.

    Even though they weren't necessarily the best students scholastically they are the type of teens I wish were around now. Living in the NorthWest as I do, I was surprised I hadn't heard about the Huskies Rowing Crew of 1936. After finishing my non stop listen, I called my sister and brother, both of whom went to U-Dub, which is, for some reason I haven't yet learned, is the locals nickname for Washington State University in Seattle. The story takes place during the depression and also describes the hard work the young team members did to pay their tuition and the evolution of the Dust Bowl which happened at the same general period of time.

    These guys rowed in the 8 man boat in the 1936 Olympics, which were held in Berlin prior to the start of Hitlers rise to fame. While Germany swept all the other rowing awards, this team from the boonies, made up of loggers, fisherman's and farmers sons competed for against 4 years against the elite song men from Princeton, Yale, Navy, and other 'upper class' and wealthy of the East Coast. About the only other West Coast team mentioned was the Olympic Medal willing Cal State team from Berkley, who won Olympic Gold for 2 years prior to and several years after U-Dub's big win.

    Daniel Brown injects a bit of humor into this biography of a cedar boat when he writes about the huge class differences between the coasts when writes about the differences in rowing apparel. Everyone from the East Coast schools wore nice and matching uniforms while the Husky team wore old sweats and mismatched T-shirts..even when rowing at the Olympics.

    This is the kind of story that makes me proud to be both an American and a NorthWesterner. It is an ideal listen for long family road trips and is sure to inspire teens towards athletic endeavors-not just crewing.

    Good also for anyone who enjoys sports stories and even WWII or depression era novels. I also decided to purchase "Unbroken", another biographically oriented novel about the same Olympics-and it's narrated by Edward Hermann also. As many of you know, "Unbroken" has been made into a movie-and I think "The Boys in the Boat" should also be made into a film, if it hasn't been yet.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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