“The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics” by Daniel James Brown is a book I honestly probably would have never read this book if it wasn’t at the suggestion of my Grandma during Thanksgiving. She had mentioned two books she thought everyone should read and this was one of them. Most of the time I read fiction books of mystery and suspense. However, this non-fiction book proved to be more of a page-turner than the last couple books I had read during the holidays.
As I first started to read this I was thinking to myself I know nothing about rowing and it is set in such an earlier time that I feared I wouldn’t be able to relate. However, I was wrong on both accounts. The book definitely takes you back (as it was before my time), to a time in the great depression.
As for not knowing anything about rowing, after reading it for a couple of nights I felt like every time I went to bed I was dreaming about rowing. Some of that was the way the author did a great job at talking about all parts of rowing but not necessarily at the same time. It was over the course of the book he talks about the various terms and I started to understand what the coxswain, engine room, bowman, and stern.
The book is entirely from viewpoint of Joe Rantz, a poor farm boy from the state of Washington who was growing up during the great depression. The book takes you through his struggles after he lost his mother early on and then was abandoned by his father. You can tell through the story that all of the struggles he faced as a child gave him the discipline and strength to pursue rowing once he got to college as he had never done it before.
If you are looking for a good page turner I would definitely check this book out. If you have read it I would love to know why you thought.
Final thoughts, I know there was a PBS Documentary called “The Boys’ of 36” that is based on the book that you can find on the PBS website. I have not watched it yet but am going to check it out now that I have finished the book.