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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars

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.
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on 30 June 2014
Liked this a lot
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on 2 November 2014
I liked this book it wiz good Innit it reminded me of my time at Oxbridge and da rowin. Safe.
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on 21 June 2015
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on 19 January 2016
on time intact reasonably priced
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on 4 August 2009
I live in the Western U.S., and I could not find this book at any bookstore (Powells, Barnes and Noble), nor any library. I even checked the NYC Public Library and the Library of Congress online, but my searches found nothing.

I was referred to amazon.uk by a friend who had studied at Durham University, and who had used the UK service before. The delivery and service were terrific.

The book should be of some great interest to rowers and those who follow rowing or train as a rower might on the ergo and weight circuits. Those who have not rowed in the UK, like myself, likely cannot comprehend the "boat race" mental construct, which motivates, guides, and perpetuates training for one race held only one time per year. The only event I can compare it to in the States is the Army-Navy football game, where winning that match-up determines success or failure for the season.

However, this book, a journal kept by 2 bright and lively lads who competed against each other in the boat race as brothers, brings home precisely the stakes involved in winning the Oxford-Cambridge race: nothing short of success in this race will mean success for the year for the coaches, the old boys, and the crew members.

Shortly after I purchased and began reading this book. I discovered a video on U Tube of a researcher in business psychology, who worked out (some) and spent time with one of these crews in order to understand the psyhchology underlying the crew. This researcher gave lectures to business executives demonstrating how those qualities necessary to successfully constitute the crew might be applied to successful strategies by the business teams.

As this book makes potently clear, the fastest or even the strongest rowers do not always complement the others in the 8-oar skull, and so the successful 8 plus cox requires something more.

I found the book terrific, although that may have resulted from an interest in the subject matter and sports psychology.

By the way, does one know that the blue blazer given each memeber of the
Cambridge 'Blue" crew has no identifying crest patched on, unlke the other sports clubs.

Don't you want to know why? This is just one detail found in this book that gives the story cred. The writing is plain, detailed, and straighforward (no Walter Scott here), but the details are fascinating.
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on 11 April 2009
One of the best sports books that I've read. The two seperate accounts make the story all the more interesting, and because both have sacrificed so much in the pursuit of glory, you end up not really minding who wins. A dead heat would've been the perfect result...

A cracking read, that is very hard to put down.
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on 28 February 2012
2 bits of advice.. (1) Buy this book, it's the best book i've read this year. (2) If you were unfortunate enough not to see this race when it happened, you are fortunate that the book will be an even better read now. I did not know the result, and had to put my hand over the photographs half way through, as I wanted to find out the result at the end. I read this book in 2 sittings and thought it was fantastic.
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on 8 September 2009
This is a great sports story - given it was the closest Boat Race ever and had brothers competing against each other for the first time in 100 years - but the real story here is that of the all-consuming lifestyle that is training for The Boat Race. Readers will get a close-up look at the student-athlete experience at Oxford & Cambridge, with a healthy emphasis on the 'athlete' portion, and will better understand the obsessive nature of all elite athletes.

David and James did a superb job of conveying the mounting pressure on the rowers at Oxford and Cambridge, with everything riding on the result of a single race at the end of seven months of training. Readers gain insight on the ups and downs that are part of the selection process for the 8 seats in each crew. It took me a little time to get used to the back and forth format between the brothers' points of view, but once I got used to the rhythm, I really enjoyed it, and I think any fan of The Boat Race would enjoy it too.
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on 18 April 2009
I think I've read most of what's been written in the rarefied field of rowing biographies and it's strange that the two best of the genre should have come from the same stable, Hampton School. Martin Cross the Hampton school master whose "Olympic Obsession" did more than any sporting biography I've read to explain the altered mental state of a winner at the top level and now this cleverly planned and beautifully written account of a relationship played out around the events of a singular English sporting tradition. These are two extraordinary and gifted young men at two great institutions who choose to imprison themselves in the completely blinkered uncompromising world of top level university rowing and for 285 pages you inhabit the same prison. If the sheer torture of the physical regime is not enough to exhaust you, the emotional trip certainly will. What becomes apparent is that if the result had been different they would both have been the worse for it and probably if the margin of victory had been greater some of the same might have applied. But they both gained something from the result and the events of the day, created a foundation from which to develop the rest of their lives and their own relationship. Finally and like all the best stories, the ending had me once again reaching the hankies. Excellent.
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