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The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics | [Daniel James Brown]

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

What Members Say

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  •  
    Richard Van Voris ATTLEBORO, MA, US 06-28-13
    Richard Van Voris ATTLEBORO, MA, US 06-28-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan PEARLAND, TX, United States 06-24-13
    Susan PEARLAND, TX, United States 06-24-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jan 04-06-15
    Jan 04-06-15 Member Since 2011

    Tangential, eclectic, avid listener... favorite book is the one currently in ear.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Yes, Yes, Yes"

    I was so slow purchasing this one... but 3700 other readers ranking it at a 5 aren't wrong. It is a gentle, plain but uplifting account of how 9 young Americans, the product of the great depression and dust bowl overcame all odds to win the 1936 Berlin Olympics. You know how it is going to end from the title... but clear to the win you aren't really sure it can possibly happen.

    I love how it is nestled into history. My elderly family members don't want to read "Unbroken" or other WWII and depression era stories. "We lived it and don't want to hear about it anymore" they tell me. Although Brown, ties you into the Dust Bowl, Great Depression, the New Deal and start of WWII... this isn't a focus on what they endured, rather is there only to show how it made them stronger. I think they will love this one.

    The narrator did great... you can tell he isn't from the Northwest, the place names, just didn't come from the mouth of a native. Still a 5 star narration.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Molly-o Seattle 09-07-13
    Molly-o Seattle 09-07-13 Member Since 2007

    English major. Love to read

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wish I could read this for the first time again!"

    This is such a treat to read. Yes, I live in the northwest so I am already greeting the story with open arms, but it wouldn't matter, truly. Daniel Brown knows how to tell a story which is the essential component for me to veer into the non-fiction realm. He takes a compelling story, humanizes it by closely following one of the participants and creates a momentum that is very hard to resist. I found myself wanting to stop people on the Seattle streets to suggest they read the book. That's a pretty good measure.

    2 of 2 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.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jacqueline 11-20-13
    Jacqueline 11-20-13

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Once in a Lifetime Moment in History"

    The combination of the amazing author skills of Daniel James Brown--along with the outstanding narrating ability of Edward Hermann--blew me away!

    These nine athletes pull together in a quiet determination in preparation for the greatest achievement of their lives. They didn't have the money of some of the other teams, or the best clothing or living arrangements--what they had was some of the most remarkable resolve to maintain their goals and support for the team --each and every one of them. Not to be left out is the shell builder, George Pocock, who had as much influence on the boys as anyone. His dedication to making the perfect shell is quite a story in itself--I found out much more about this sport than I thought I would.

    Listening to the winning race was breathtaking. I knew how the race ends- we all do - but I wasn't able to keep from being nervous and cheering the American team on as though I was in the stands. That is what this narrator does--just like in Unbroken, he pulls you in.

    Everything came together at that time in history--the right team, the right coach, an amazing shell builder, and their combined efforts to achieve a once in a lifetime moment.

    A must listen!

    I found the propaganda efforts in Germany one of the most disgusting parts of the story--the fake front they were able to put up for the world during that time was nauseating -as well as Hitler's efforts to unfairly give advantages to the German team over the other's --this was a very small portion of the story, yet had to be included. It makes this story even more amazing.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Blakely Oakland, CA 03-24-15
    S. Blakely Oakland, CA 03-24-15 Member Since 2011
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    "Loved it."
    What made the experience of listening to The Boys in the Boat the most enjoyable?

    This is a rare moment in history where several amazing individuals converged and created something much larger than the sum of the parts.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Hanover, NH, United States 03-07-15
    Robert Hanover, NH, United States 03-07-15 Member Since 2010
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    "I had no idea it would be this good!"

    What a riveting story. I did not imagine a book about rowing would have me captivated but this story did the trick. This is extremely well written, allowing me to visualize every moment. The audible version takes it over the top with its narration that made driving seem effortless while the crew worked hard. From such humble beginnings, legends were made.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    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?

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kay 08-26-14
    Kay 08-26-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Teamwork and Dedication Prevails"
    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    He should have researched the pronunciation of the names of the towns in Washington. I believe he also miss pronounced the Cal crew coache's name.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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