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Far more than just another sports book
on 5 April 2009
Blood Over Water is as much about the struggle between heroism and humanity as about the race between Oxford and Cambridge. It's a terrifying read in places. It's not just the overwhelming intensity of the training regimes inflicted on Boat Race athletes. Nor was it, for me, the actual pain of racing and losing, although that's described in searing detail too.
Instead, the most disturbing and darkly fascinating aspect was the insight into the brothers' psychological journey. We get a privileged glimpse into James and David Livingston's absolute focus, their obsession and hunger for a single victory. It's heroic and admirable. But how can you be a hero and retain your humanity? When the system teaches you to hate your opponents, what happens when your enemy turns out to be your own brother?
The Livingston brothers take us on a thrilling journey through these dark places and ultimately show us that the ultimate victory is one of friendship, whoever has the medal. It's a real page-turner of a story that should be read by far more than just the rowing fraternity. It's about hope, fear, pain, love and all the rest that make us human.