The Last Amateurs: To Hell and Back with the Cambridge Boat Race Crew Paperback – 5 Mar 2009
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A good book, outstandingly vivid in its description of the difficulties the squad encountered -- Rowing and Regatta Magazine
De Rond does a great job in portraying the stresses and strains - emotional and physical.
-- BBC Sport Website, listed as one of the Best Sporting Reads of 2008
He gives intelligent and thoughtful voice to the essentials that make up the 180-year-old Boat Race experience. -- Daniel Topolski, The Guardian, August 2008
Sports journalism of the highest order -- Patrick Kidd, The Times, August 2008
highly entertaining, and provides a real insight into the trials and tribulations, the bonding sessions and arguments, of the squad -- Scotland on Sunday
Sports journalism of the highest orderSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
It comes close to Daniel Topolski's 'Boat Race', the story of the Oxford revival from 1973 to 1984 and for me one of the best books on rowing ever written. It is miles ahead of Topolski's account of the 1987 mutiny - for me far over rated.
I was once captain of the rowing club (Jesus College) right next to the Goldie Boathouse (the CUBC headquarters) and have known some Boat Race oarsmen quite well - e.g rowed in races with them. And yet it is a very closed world, not open to the uninitiated. I had no idea what went on in there and this book really does open the doors. I found it extremely interesting.
Some fasinating insights included the detailed description by an (anonymous) squad member of how legally to raise testosterone levels before a race (the lengths these men would go to!). And then quick advice on how best to lower them again. The selection battles for the crew are well described and left me with the uneasy feeling that there might well have been people who had good grounds for feeling unhappy about not being in the crew.
The account of the replacement of Russ Glenn as cox just before the race is very sympathetic but, by contrast, leaves one in little doubt that the decision was hard but fair.
I was left with a great deal of sympathy - even liking - for the crew and for the Head Coach Duncan Holland, who left his position as Head Coach when his contract was not renewed after losing the Boat Race in 2008.Read more ›
Unfortunately, it is massively disappointing, largely due to the ego of the author. There is a lot of philosophical discourse in the first chapter about what it means to be an "ethnographer", but this seems to exist as justification for the quite unbelievable amount of the book which is dedicated to writing about the author - his feelings, his dreams (as in the ones he has when asleep, not his aspirations), his hangovers - and I'm not even going to mention here which of his attributes he goes into unnecessary detail about in chapter 12.
Had Mr de Rond actually been a member of the crew itself, this might have been relevant, but it ends up as just so much padding. I want to read about the crew and the preparations for the race, not how an independent observer reacted to them or felt about them, and I'd guess that at least a quarter of the book is taken up by such things. I learned far more about the preparations for the Boat Race, and got far more of an insider's viewpoint, from Dan Topolski's excellent "True Blue", which I would strongly recommend over this title.
The only criticism I have is that De Rond, especially in the early chapters, seemed intent in making himself part of the story. With a preface that pointlessly agonizes about his role as anthropologist and whether or not he can be objective and later chapters that talk about his own experience of rowing the head of the charles I would have preferred if he'd told the story more from the perspective of pure observer.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As an avid 'fixed seat' sweep rower I was looking forward to reading this book.
I was not dissappointed - it keeps you hooked from start to finish, immersing you in the trials... Read more
Bought it to go on holiday with and because of a flight delay, I ended up reading the whole thing before I actually left Blighty! But that's enough about me....or is it? Read morePublished on 4 Jun. 2010 by Stanley Ash
I was really keen on knowing what the blues boat did in training. There was good detail into this. DeRond included himself a little too much in some of the chapters. Read morePublished on 15 Dec. 2009 by A. J. O'brien
An account of the 2007 Cambridge Boat Race crew selection and formation.. A quest to find the 'best 8' and not the '8 best' rowers... fascinating stuff..Published on 3 Dec. 2009 by Mark O'Toole
This really is an excellent book. The author's insight into what goes on - not just in the boat itself, but in getting into that boat in the first place - is unparalleled. Read morePublished on 30 April 2009 by readinck
I read this originally in hardback when it came out just after the 2008 Beijing Olympics and I thought it was fascinating. Read morePublished on 29 April 2009 by NKP
de Rond's book is initially compelling and I had to finish it the day I started. Despite this, it was ultimately unsatisfying. Read morePublished on 1 Jan. 2009 by 13