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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

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Average Customer Ratings

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Story

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Phenomenal Book!

Brilliant writing and outstanding narrative. I highly recommend this Audible recording to any lending ear. Truly engaging, running the full gamut of emotion. Well done all around.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Jake
  • Malibu, CA, United States
  • 12-12-16

Epic read

One of the most inspirational stories of our time, with a great narrator to tell you all about it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Words recreate the past with incredible detail and emotion

The research that went into the recreation of this time in history is revered. Details of historical events were eloquently woven into this account. The author honored those portrayed in the book and the legacy they left behind. Much can be gleaned from this book about the synergy of teamwork. It's movie material.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great Inspirational Tale

Do you know nothing about rowing and crew? Neither did I nor, being from Missouri, did I care. This story is about far more than crew. The story of Joe overcoming a hand that would have done almost anyone else in is enough to get you off your feet. The friendships and teamwork of this group shows they have metal not only around their necks. A great read, be sure to finish the epilogue!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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An amazing story

Very well written. I was excited every time I had a sore moment to listen. The story gives you pride in the kind of determination our forebearers had and inspiration to fill the shoes ourselves.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Indescribable

It seems as if you are in the boat with them. You feel their emotions as if you lived those moments as well. Best book I have ever listened to.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Outstanding!

Great book. All should read this book whether you know anything about rowing or not. You will when it's done and you will know a lot! It will also be a great history lesson that we all need a refresher on.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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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

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Highly Recommend

Question: Why would anyone want to read a book about the 1936 rowing team from the University of Washington? Why is it relevant?

Answer: Because it is wonderful history, gripping, exciting, and well-told. And it serves as an excellent example of how perseverance, hard work, talent, skill, can conquer anything less than being a winner.

The story is excellent, the history is amazing, and the narrator, the late Edward Hermann, is superb. The author's style reminds me of Laura Hillenbrand ("Seabiscuit," "Unbroken"). Excellent.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful