The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
By: Daniel James Brown
My Rating: FIVE OUT OF FIVE STARS!
Best for: 14 and up
I grew up in Seattle.
While I haven’t called the Pacific Northwest home for many years, I still carry with me an affection–or maybe an affliction–for Seattle sports. That flame was kindled when I was young by my Grandpa, himself Seattle-born, -raised, -lived, -died, and -buried in the shadow of Mt. Rainier. He was 14 years old in 1936, the year 9 boys from the University of Washington Crew Team won Gold in Hitler’s Olympic sham.
I’d never heard of University of Washington rowing growing up; I never knew the passionate fervor with which my ancestral Seattleites followed the UW Crew team or the events of 1936 that culminated in Gold. But now I do, and imaging my teenage-Grandpa next to the radio, screaming himself horse cheering on the local boys and joining in the jubilation of victory added profound depth to my reading experience.
I was transported by those Boys and their Boat. Their story was amazing. The book that tells it is phenomenal.
I’ve never read anything written by Daniel James Brown before, but Boys in the Boat won’t be the last. What a storyteller! He made a crew boat race a white-knuckled, edge of your seat event. He made a real life love story feel like a fairy tale. He made Hitler’s horror real and relevant. He made crew rowing a life lesson in self-mastery and team-over-self that will provide fodder for team building events for years to come.
The Great Depression. The Dust Bowl. World War 1. World War 2. Hitler’s propaganda machine. The Holocaust. This book was about rowing, but it was rowing with a backdrop of the most significant events of the 20th Century. The Boys in the Boat made history come ALIVE!
The Greatest Generation, indeed.
I couldn’t give a stronger recommendation for Boys in the Boat.
One other note, the audio book is fantastic. It’s narrated by audiobook rockstar Edward Herrmann and it feels like you’re getting read to by your grandpa.
No content concerns. Best for 14 and up.