The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
Publisher: Viking Press
Publication Date: June 2013
Categories: Nonfiction, United States, 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. 

About Daniel James Brown
My Thoughts:

When Daniel James Brown publishes a new book I don’t have to think twice about whether or not to read it. I’ve been enamored of everything of his that I’ve read and this book was no exception. 

Part of Brown’s brilliance lies in his ability to make you care about subjects you thought you had no interest in. This book is about the University of Washington’s eight-oar rowing crew from the mid 1930’s. Rowing? Yes, rowing. That’s a subject I never thought I’d be hankering to read about. By the end of the book I wanted to buy an oar and move to Seattle.

Brown always gets me by focusing on the human side of the story. It doesn’t matter that these boys were oarsmen. They could have been making cheese or painting houses. Brown’s depiction of their friendship and dedication to one another are what made this book a winner.
These boys were a fantastic group of young men from underprivileged backgrounds working their tails off to be successful. Who wouldn’t sign up to read about them?
You definitely should.

48 thoughts on “The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

  1. Lol I totally just posted a comment on the wrong blog… that's what I get for having like 10 tabs open at once!This sounds interesting! I never think to read this sort of stuff, that shows the more human side of big events, and I should. Especially for some young men who defeated Hitler's team in the Olympics! That can only be a good thing 🙂


  2. LOL- I love this. Because really, who would pick up a book because it's about rowing, other than people who row? You make me want to read ALL THE THINGS!


  3. After reading the description I was thinking: …. mwah, not for me, this book. But when I read your thoughts on the book, I was thinking: maybe I should give it a try. I'll keep the book/author in mind anyways.


  4. Ok, when you recommended this book on my vacation reads post, I checked it out at B&N the next day and thought it wouldn't be for me…no interest in the topic of a rowing team, lol. But now that I've read your thoughts and they Are the same as mine, it seems I should give it a try. Sticking it on my swap site wish list now!


  5. I'm reading this right now. I've read almost all of it, and I'd say what the publisher said in their description's last paragraph. Great story. No fiction can beat a true story like this.


  6. I'm glad that this was a wonderful read. I read your post on Kim's blog about how you love this author's books and that's made me eager to try this author.


  7. I've been seeing this one pop up more frequently and earn plenty of praise. I must say, you have me intrigued. I don't know if I need yet another book to add to the pile, but I will definitely be considering it the next time I'm shopping for books!


  8. I've been looking forward to this one, I love rowing (it's one of the few summer Olympic sports I must watch).There's something sexy about rowers, which is not why I would read the book, just an added bonus.


  9. My favorite non-fiction is always the stuff the does a good job drawing you into the human side of the story. I like facts, but if they're just presented as facts, a book can get dry fast!


  10. I love sports stories, this one sounds great! Reading books about \”old\” Olympics is always interesting because they're so different nowadays. Not the sports included, per se, but the marketing and how the events are delivered to the public.


  11. I was reading what you said about reading everything by Daniel James Brown and I realized, I do a really bad job keeping track of non-fiction authors! I think parts of this is just that they're less likely to have another book out and certainly don't often have a sequel scheduled. That means that if I look them up right after reading a book of theirs, there might not be anything else to pick up. And there's nothing to mark on my calendar to look forward to later. That said, I'd still like to do a better job at keeping up-to-date on new non-fiction and at remembering authors I really like 🙂 Do you have a main source for news of new non-fiction releases?


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