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"The Boys in the Boat" by Daniel James Brown

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I just finished reading “The Boys in the Boat” by Daniel James Brown - a true story about nine Americans and their epic quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

As Joe Rantz lay dying, he shares the tale of the University of Washington nine-man rowing team, and their individual struggles to afford to continue their education because of the depression and their individual status in life.

But first you must meet George Yeoman Popcock … one of a kind boat builder.

George and his brother built boats in England, but when he left England he ended up in Seattle and started building boats, by himself, by hand, with a skill that was not to be matched by another builder in the U.S.   He had been rowing since 14 years of age and understood the mentality of each member of a boat and what made them successful.  His influence is seen throughout the book; as a matter of fact, every chapter starts with a quote from George. He built the Husky Clipper that the team rowed to Olympic Gold.

We meet the freshman rowing coach, Tom Boles, who knew he had something special in the team, if they were kept under control, and Al Ulbrickson, the varsity coach who did whatever it took to keep the minds of the team “in the boat.”

From the many who first tried out for the team to the nine who persevered, you find farmers, lumberjacks, and hardworking young men who struggled with both rowing and education; to make matters worse, they had to battle to win over their rival California and eastern schools, filled with wealthy students who did not face the day to day financial struggles of “The Boys In the Boat.”

This book is a combination of a truly amazing story of the nine, their coaches, the newspapermen, and the history of what was going on in Germany.  I was both educated in history and entertained.

 

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