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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational story - well told
I've never been that interested in rowing but the historical background of this book made me decide to read it.

The book concerns the make up and background of the USA rowing team which competed and won gold in the 1936 Olympic Games.

It is a heroic tale as the team was from the state university of Washington and its members were not preppy...
Published 18 months ago by Bacchus

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worthy but too long, too detailed
The author's notes at the end of a long book run to sixteen pages, distilled from over a thousand in the original draft. The research is not to be questioned. But it suffers from a desire to find a place in the tale for everything discovered - and many are only tangential or marginal. This does not make for a fluent narrative. There is also a daunting feeling of...
Published 11 months ago by G. M. Sinstadt


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational story - well told, 2 July 2013
By 
Bacchus (Greater London - Surrey) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Boys In The Boat (Hardcover)
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I've never been that interested in rowing but the historical background of this book made me decide to read it.

The book concerns the make up and background of the USA rowing team which competed and won gold in the 1936 Olympic Games.

It is a heroic tale as the team was from the state university of Washington and its members were not preppy privileged boys (who would have attended Ivy League schools or Berkeley in California) but boys who came from modest or even impoverished backgrounds. Much of the narrative focuses on one of the crew, Joe Rantz, who was virtually abandonded by his family and felt he had much to prove. Much of the training and trials took place against the great economic difficulties of the Depression era.

However this story also deals with the preparations for the 1936 Olympic Games, which Hitler's Minister of Propaganda Goebbels had tried to turn into a showcase for the Nazi State. It would do this by trying to demonstrate that the State was not the anti-Semitic repressive one that people thought and to show how Aryan athletes were physically superior to all others. Goebbels was aided in this by the film maker Leni Riefenstahl.

The Games did not go to plan in many ways, mainly due to the amazing prowess of some of the American athletes. The achievements of Jesse Owens are well known. I was not aware until reading this book about the rowing team. The writer has described the nail biting tension of each race from the earliest trials in the University rowing club right up to the final Olympic triumph in 1936. It shows how touch and go the final race was. The Americans were behind throughout the race until the very last seconds.

I learned a lot about rowing from this book and came to appreciate how much sport can matter to people. It made for a useful metaphor for dealing with life's ups and downs.

Highly recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Historic Context for this triumph of team work, 17 Jun 2013
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S2b an OAP "worzelrummage" (East Anglia, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Boys In The Boat (Hardcover)
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Daniel James Brown has constructed an excellent historical account of the Washington Eight who not only overcame all sorts of personal adversity but finally overcame the propagandist-driven German state machine at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. This is not the first book I have read about coaching and team-working but this one has a tremendous depth of well-drawn context about the life and times in which the protagonists grew up and lived from the dust-bowl of the thirties in America, hot on the heels of the financial collapse at the end of the previous decade, through the manipulation by the Third Reich of 'their' Olympic games, famous for Jesse Owens perhaps rather more than the rowing-crew from the North West reaches of the US; and the Nazi rape of nations.

DJB has undertaken extensive research to develop a wonderful platform and shape to this thoroughly enthralling book. Learn more about the tough times in Europe and the US as well as the overcoming of evil by so much good. A good read and well-worth your personal effort in doing so.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a true life story of nine men and a boat, 29 Aug 2013
By 
Petra "I love to read" "book addict!!!" (Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Boys In The Boat (Hardcover)
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Nine Boys and a Boat by Daniel James Brown for me was a great read which for one main reason it was a true story which showed so much faith in a sport and of course "the boat".
There is a main character within this fascinating book but I for me the main star was the actual boat - as it for me was the centre of the storyline. This is not a normal book speaking about people's experiences at their time of the Olympics but with Hitler actually being there, this story is truly unique and exceptional.
I would highly recommend The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown as not only a terrific book but one with so much more than a typical book of fiction as the author spoke of the races taking place I could almost see the action happening straight in front of me. The author has a wonderful talent of bringing the story to his audience and for that simple reason I would recommend this book to any reader who enjoys a good factual read based on characters like no other.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly good..., 21 Jun 2013
By 
D. Thurgood "dan.tee" (Liverpool Uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Boys In The Boat (Hardcover)
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I'm not sure if my delight in this book is just Olympic legacy or something else - either way, this book is a stonking good read. Brief synopsis - it's the story of the Washington University rowing 8s team of 1936 who rowed to Gold at Hitler's Berlin Olympics. But it's much, much deeper than that. (as if that wasn't enough!) The story of the main protagonist, Joe Rantz, is told in full detail and told well. His was a tale of abandonment and obscurity, slowly transforming to success and adulation.

This book is a long one, and while it does talk about the science and skill of rowing, it's mainly about the people. There's lots of rivalry and overcoming of difficulty. You really get the feel for the personalities of the rowers and their own struggles both on and off the water. Naturally, being about Americans, it has a slight feel of, 'wow, isn't America amazing' but it is only slight - I would've been quickly switched off if the flag waving had been excessive. It's clear that the best boat builder of the era was George Pocock - and he was London born and bred.

I recommend this book to rowers and non-rowers alike - I'm certainly not a rower and I loved it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational, 24 April 2014
This review is from: The Boys In The Boat (Kindle Edition)
Truly one of the most extraordinary stories I have ever read. A beautifully structured book balancing raw emotional , heartbreaking, and adrenaline fuelled words. A compelling read. The book provides an opportunity to step back in time and learn just how we can now take too many things for granted in our everyday lives. I wanted to be able to stand and cheer these men across the finishing line. I had never heard of Joe and the crew, the coach or the boat builder, now I wish I had had the opportunity to meet them. An old dear friend of mine won gold,for Britain in the eights, Andy Holmes, sadly he has passed away now and I never quite appreciated just what he had gone through in order to fulfill his dream. I certainly do now.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fabulous read, 4 Aug 2014
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This review is from: The Boys In The Boat (Kindle Edition)
I know nothing about rowing but was intrigued by the period in which these boys rowed-the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
After reading this wonderfully written book I now have a genuine appreciation of the subject and a huge admiration for the 'Boys in the Boat'. What extraordinary young men they were and I am so very pleased that there story has been documented in such a vivid and emotionally engaging book. An excellent read
L Storey -United Kingdom
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant: A Story That Needed To Be Told, 20 May 2013
By 
John Richard "camban99" (Hull, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Boys In The Boat (Hardcover)
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Beginning this book as one who knew virtually nothing about the sport of rowing I was gradually and eloquently educated about the rigours of this precise yet brutally physical activity and those who participated in the 1936 Olympic Games. A truly brilliant work which not only encompasses the sport of rowing at that time but also expands into the private lives of the men who took the challenge, especially one of them, Joe Rantz, who emerged from a life of poverty and family rejection to win Olympic gold through sheer hard work and dedication of awe inspiring extent. We are also taken into the dark heart of the Nazi regime and how it attempted to portray a false image to the world at large. Cannot recommend this inspirational, factual work enough, whether you know about the sport or not, it is a magnificently researched story that deserves recognition.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Be inspired!, 18 Dec 2014
By 
Mike France (SW France) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Boys In The Boat (Paperback)
This is simply one of the most inspiring stories that I have ever read; I couldn't put it down.

I've never rowed but I found this a fascinating tale about the US rowing team who won gold in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The true story provides an example to all that anything in life can be achieved with hard work and focus.

I love it so much that I've given all my children and several friends, copies for Christmas!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars REQUIRES STAMINA AND ENDURANCE, 12 May 2013
By 
DAVID BRYSON (Glossop Derbyshire England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Boys In The Boat (Hardcover)
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Reading nearly 400 pages of this book, that is to say, calls for stamina: the same is of course also true of competitive rowing. The story-line traces the progress of a University of Washington (the state, not Washington DC) coxed eight through early local contests against their opposite numbers from California, then in national competitions held in New York State, until they are selected for the 1936 Berlin Olympics, gaining gold in their event under the nose of Hitler himself. The narrative is hung round the person of Joe Rantz, who died in 2007, last but one to survive out of the crew of the shell Husky Clipper, designed and built by an Englishman George Yeoman Pocock.

In many ways it is all very well done. Rowing is a sport that arouses my interest only when I have a dog in the race, so to say. These days that comes down to the 4-yearly Olympics and the annual Oxford/Cambridge boat race on the Thames. Nevertheless, Daniel James Brown knows how to make his event reports very readable even to such a reader as I am, totally lacking in either experience or technical insight into the sport. He goes a little deeper than I would expect in the sort of sports reporting that I usually read, which is of Arsenal games plus a few similar highlights of the week. He will occasionally probe the inner thoughts and emotions of some party or other, usually Joe but also the crew coach Al Ulbrickson and certain others now and again. This is done without stretching my credulity, and the storytelling throughout shows exemplary good taste. If anything, the good taste is almost too good. There is never a word about any sexual activities of any of the participants, and my reservations about that are not because I wanted to know but because an entire dimension of life is resolutely ignored.

Not only that, the sporting-narrative thread is very skilfully interwoven with the outline biography of Joe Rantz. Again, this looks at its subject from the outside, but even so there is plenty to tell when we are hearing about the struggles of a youngster with a heartless stepmother and a weak father against a backdrop of the Great Depression and the freakish and destructive weather patterns of the 1930's, conspicuously but far from entirely the great Dust Bowl. Right at the end, the final chapter of everyone's life is sketched in touchingly and with respect and dignity in the expression. However by this time I was starting to have a few problems. In the first place Joe is rather too obviously a kind of coatstand on which to hang a long series of rowing race reports. In the second place there are really an awful lot of these reports, nicely done of course, as I already said, but only telling us what we would expect, namely that it was a series of ups and downs. If the strategy was to lead up to the Berlin Olympics, rather than just to recount a string of successive events, it could have been done more selectively. If, on the other hand, the book is really just a glorified string of reports, then we could have done without the fairly superficial story of Joe, his family and his sweetheart. I have to assume it's the former strategy, but I'm not totally convinced of that because of the loving attention to detail with which the author invests all the umpteen rowing commentaries. He likes that a bit too much, and I was getting weary of it as we approached the Olympics, which surely was going to offer us something different.

Indeed it does. The Nazi regime, in all its foulness but also with its flair for public relations and deception, is memorably evoked, and evoked without mawkishness or laying it on thick. As usual, Daniel James Brown keeps his distance, and this time the effect is all the more telling for that reason. The best is definitely kept for the end, and a very good best it is too. In its way, everything in the book is good. I just feel it could have done with some pruning of the race details so as to provide a sense of crescendo and climax rather than so much repetition of much the same. I reflect that I could have applied a bit more selectivity for myself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful. Created the atmosphere of the time and involved ..., 9 Aug 2014
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This review is from: The Boys In The Boat (Kindle Edition)
Wonderful. Created the atmosphere of the time and involved you emotionally from the very beginning. You don't have to be a rower to feel the love and commitment felt by these amazing people now passed into history. Moved me to tears in places.
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The Boys In The Boat by Daniel James Brown
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