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The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown Review

Title: The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

Author: Daniel James Brown

First published June 4, 2013

404 pages, Hardcover

ISBN: 9780670025817 (ISBN10: 067002581X)

Rating: 4.37


If you loved Seabiscuit and Unbroken, you won’t want to miss Daniel James Brown’s captivating tale of The Boys in the Boat. Follow the incredible journey of the University of Washington’s eight-oar crew as they set their sights on winning Olympic gold at Hitler’s 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Against all odds, this team of sons from working-class families defeated their elite rivals and captured the hearts of millions of Americans. Joe Rantz, a young rower without family or future, finds hope and purpose in the crew’s pursuit of victory.

With an enigmatic coach and a visionary British boat builder, the team’s ultimate success comes from their unwavering trust in each other. This inspiring story is a testament to the power of commitment, determination, and optimism.

About the Author

Daniel James Brown resides in the countryside located to the east of Redmond, Washington, where he spends his time crafting nonfiction books that recount gripping historical events.

His latest work, “Facing the Mountain,” centers on the lives of four young Japanese American men and their families as they bravely confront the harsh new realities that arose with the onset of World War II. Brown’s previous book, “The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics,” was a New York Times bestseller that tells the remarkable tale of nine working-class boys who revolutionized the sport of rowing and captured the hearts of millions of Americans during the Great Depression.

The book is being adapted for a feature film by MGM, with George Clooney set to direct.

Brown’s second book, “The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride,” was selected as an INDIE NEXT NOTABLE SELECTION by the American Bookseller’s Association, and recounts the incredible journey of a young woman whose fate became intertwined with that of the infamous Donner Party in 1846. His debut work, “Under a Flaming Sky: The Great Hinckley Firestorm of 1894,” delves into the events of September 1, 1894, when his great-grandfather and over 300 others perished in one of America’s most devastating forest fires.

The book was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award, named one of the Best Books of 2006 by Booklist magazine, and selected as a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers pick.

Editoral Review

Daniel James Brown’s The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics is an immersive and compelling work of non-fiction that seamlessly melds history, sports, and personal drama together. Released in 2013, it quickly became a New York Times bestseller, and justifiably so.

Brown’s writing style is mesmerizing, and he masterfully captures the period of the Great Depression and the tumultuous world events leading up to the 1936 Olympics, a time of global uncertainty that impacted the American rowing team in profound ways. The narrative follows nine young men from humble beginnings, and the life-changing journey they embark on as they come together to compete in the rowing event at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.

The author deftly portrays the individual personalities and stories of each team member while also providing a comprehensive backdrop of the times. He paints a vivid picture of the political landscape of the late 1930s, including the rise of Hitler and the Nazi party, which culminates in a dramatic finale at the Berlin Olympics.

Brown masterfully tells the story of these individuals’ relentless pursuit of excellence, both on and off the water, while also evoking the cultural and historical context that shaped their experiences. Brown’s writing is deeply engaging, and the book is infused with a palpable sense of drama throughout.

The story is so well-researched and crafted that readers are instantly transported to a different world, reliving the excitement and the drama of the sports events, tasting the dust of Depression-era America, and feeling the rising tide of Nazi power. The book is a true page-turner that is impossible to put down, an epic journey that is gripping from start to finish.

However, one area where the book falls short is the lack of character development for some of the team members. Though Brown captures the broad contours of the individual lives and struggles of the rowers, there are times when the characters feel underdeveloped, and some important interpersonal dynamics may have been overlooked.

Nevertheless, this is a minor criticism, considering the overall excellence of the book. Ultimately, The Boys in the Boat is an exceptional work of non-fiction, and Daniel James Brown deserves every bit of praise he has received for his research, writing, and storytelling.

It is a book that transcends its sports-centric narrative and has relevance for anyone who is interested in personal growth, resilience, and the power of the human spirit. It portrays the triumph of the underdog, the importance of hard work, and the universal human thirst for glory and greatness.

For anyone who appreciates a good story, a fascinating history lesson or just an engaging read, this book is a must-read. SCORE: 9/10

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