10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Inspirational story - well told,
This review is from: The Boys In The Boat (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
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.