Narrator: Edward Herrmann
Published by Penguin Audio on June 4, 2013
Genres: Historical, Non Fiction
Length: 14 hours, 25 minutes
Audio | Goodreads
Daniel James Brown’s robust book tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans. The sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the boys defeated elite rivals first from eastern and British universities and finally the German crew rowing for Adolf Hitler in the Olympic games in Berlin, 1936.
The emotional heart of the story lies with one rower, Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not for glory, but to regain his shattered self-regard and to find a place he can call home. The crew is assembled by an enigmatic coach and mentored by a visionary, eccentric British boat builder, but it is their trust in each other that makes them a victorious team. They remind the country of what can be done when everyone quite literally pulls together—a perfect melding of commitment, determination, and optimism.
Drawing on the boys’ own diaries and journals, their photos and memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, The Boys in the Boat is an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times—the improbable, intimate story of nine working-class boys from the American west who, in the depths of the Great Depression, showed the world what true grit really meant. It will appeal to readers of Erik Larson, Timothy Egan, James Bradley, and David Halberstam's The Amateurs.
This is a bit more than the story of the 1936 Olympic crew challenge by the team from the University of Washington. Using one of the crew members as the focus, it combines his personal experience against the backdrop of the important historical events of that era (the 1929 stock market crash and resultant depression, the dust bowls, the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich, etc.). It made for a richer story with the added context.
While the backgrounds and histories of the other members of the 9-man crew team were also provided, Joe Rantz’s story was the main focus. His was symbolic of the boys who became men even before they started college given the challenges of that time. By the time I got to the actual Olympic race, I felt these men had already reached heroic heights, especially Joe.
Edward Herrmann was fantastic as the narrator. He brought each character to life and his calling of the Olympic race was just outstanding. I highly recommend the audio version.
This story left me inspired and will continue to do so every time I think about the team. What a wonderful tribute to these men.
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