The Boys In The Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown (5 out of 5)


This is not a book that is normally in the interest zone, but once in a while, there’s a book that comes out that effortlessly ties in sports with history. This reads like a perfect combination of the two, as well as painting the personalities of the rowers who were involved in that historic 1936 Olympics. The first thing that needs to be considered is the time period- 1936 was the time of Adolf Hitler’s dominance in Germany. The story of the rowing team from University of Washington takes center stage immediately, setting a perfect table for history, tumultuous times, and a heartwarming tale of overcoming individual hardships to garner a victory that inspired the world over. The urge to read Laura Hillenbrand’s book Seabiscuit over years of pressure while working for Crown Books wore through, and I finally caved and read that, and never regretted it. Horses, like rowing, are not the normal appetizer for an evening meal of books, but this book wisely proved that it’s possible to venture outside of one’s normal reading menu and get sucked into a whole new world (the book, not that annoying song).

There is a lot of emotional heart beating on this 1936 American rowing team. All of the members have their own demons to overcome and a burning desire to come together, in a state of respect, optimism, and most importantly, trust in their combined abilities to overcome their own personal shit, to go on and mount a victory that no one involved in the 1936 Berlin Olympics expected. They inspired a world over with their determination and inspired a world anew that was just beginning to tilt in the topsy turvy world known as Adolf Hitler’s Germany. The descriptions of what happened during the Olympics, and how it took the Americans minds off of the financial cesspool that we were involved in at that time (The Great Depression), is awesome. It’s as if you are there, living it. It gets into your psyche so much that when you read the play-by-play of what was going down, the raised fist of victory is in the air and you’re saying “Yes!”. That’s what happened here, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

If you like sports, read it. If you like history, read it. If you like a story of true grit and overcoming darkness to find some sort of light in a time period where hardly any was found, read it. If you have someone who isn’t sure what they want to read but wish to be inspired, recommend this. They will not be sorry.

~ by generationgbooks on June 19, 2014.

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