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.
©2013 Daniel James Brown (P)2013 Penguin Audio
In the top 5. An inspiring story story,well told. It has it all, suspense, excitement.
An outstanding narration which matches perfectly the prose.
I loved it all. That sounds like a cliche but in this case it is true.
I have not heard him before, but it won't be my last, he did a great job.
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.
I'm a designer (interiors and graphics) with an English degree. I recovered my love of reading after a disastrous bout with grad school.
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.
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.
Like everyone, I like a good story about overcoming daunting odds, persevering despite the curve balls life throws at you. This is what this story is about. It centers around Joe and his epic struggles through honestly his youngest and most formative years. It proceeds through his life and ultimately to the culmination of all of his efforts, to the 1936 olympics in Berlin. Everyone roots for the underdog and it'll make you tear up b/c you can honestly at times feel the pain he felt and the sweet taste of victory as well.
Expected, but it still had quite an impact b/c you went through such an emotional journey with Joe, the main character in the book. Even if you know the results, you don't know the journey, which is what made the ending special.
Joes girlfriend and father on the side of the course when Washington raced Cal and Joe finally getting that feeling of racing for someone other than himself, someone else being able to see what he made of himself.
I think the book was too slow to progress; it seems like it took chapters to get to much in the way of anything interesting. I understand that the character development was critical in order to give the reader the true impact of the looming success, but I honestly thought about trading the book in for the first few hours. Ultimately glad I listened to it, but man...a bit slow in the first 25%
The author masterfully weaves specific stories - of individuals, the Depression, the Dust Bowl, the rise of Nazism and the world's indifference, the sport and art and zen of rowing -- into a moving, thrilling, sometimes horrifying tale of the power of the human spirit. A beautiful story well-read. Loved it!
insight into sportsmanship
The coach for Wasington was a man of integrity.
This is not only an insight into the sport of crewing but a insight into Hitler's earlly world of devastation during the 2936 olympics in Germany.
This book really gives one an appreciation for what the "Greatest Generation" accomplished under such dire circumstances. You don't have to be a sports fan to like this book, although the information on rowing and boat making is fascinating. The story is well thought out and extremely well written. The performance by Edward Herrmann is outstanding, as he always is. I received the printed version as a Christmas gift and it was nice to see the photos that come with printed books. I do wish Audible would have some links to photos, maps, etc that audio book lovers could have access to. The book is very inspiring and uplifting - not just a sports story. It's for anyone that has to overcome formidable obstacles in order to meet goals and objectives. This story is similar to "Unbroken" and the main character in "Unbroken" appears briefly in this book as well. I give this book my highest rating.
Excellent writing, excellent performance, great story. You won't be disappointed with this one. I've been an audible subscriber for years and have never given five stars. This one is truly best in class.
Words cannot express how much I enjoyed this book - the tale of 9 ordinary men who learned something special about pulling together, even in their weak points, and fulfilling a dream that is only a fantasy for billions of people around the globe. Using Joe as a character study, the author paints a picture of a man who came from humble beginnings and tragic abandonment. He would probably be the first to tell you that he was a nobody, really, and yet he, along with eight other men, fumbled and stumbled and clawed their way to the Olympic Games in Nazi Germany in 1936.
This book incorporates many facets, and it doesn't matter if you know or care anything about rowing (I had no knowledge of the sport, and felt like I had been taught a lot without feeling stupid). It will appeal to anyone who has even passing interests in character-development, teamwork, sport, Nazi German history, inspirational tales, or any number of genres. Edward herrman's narration is superb, with the exception of some of the Washington State towns, but this does not take anything away from the performance itself.
BRAVO! Well worth the credit!
I would recommend this and in fact, bought two copies for friends/family.
True story of character and grit triumphing. Especially like the challenge faced by Joe, the protagonist, as he struggles to be a self-made man while being a true (and trusting) member of a team. Given his history of abandonment, this is no easy task.
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