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THE BOYS IN THE BOAT: A True Story ~Daniel James Brown (Narrated by Edward Herrman)

“Nine Americans and their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics”

I highly recommend THE BOYS IN THE BOAT as a book the whole family – everyone you know will enjoy.  This interesting piece of history was recommended to me by a number of people and when I suggested it to my husband he stated that several folks had recommended it to him also.

We were set for a 14 hour 2 day car trip and decided to purchase THE BOYS IN THE BOAT from Audible.com so I could play it from my cellphone app. And we could turn it on and off quickly as needed.   As it turned out the reader was one of my favorite actors and he did a marvelous job and made us laugh several times as he created new sounds for the Native American names of several places and rivers!

This is the story of the Crew team from the University of Washington in Seattle, which won the Gold Medal in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.  It is the story of a specific oarsman, Joe, who was still alive and was living in Sequim, Washington on his family farm.  Being on the crew team was the only way this young man could afford to study and become an engineer at University.  Some of the boys were from wealthier families, but several were extremely poor and counted on being fed by the crew team privileges also.  We know a great deal about each individual on the team, as the Coach insisted all keep journals.

The Coach just knew he had a team, which would create a world-class group of competitors and truly put the spotlight on the UW team for years to come.  And the team met that expectation and went on beyond their dreams and imaginations.  The Coach had some amazing rules about practice sessions, and his demanding discipline about grades and studies, and for correct behaviors.  He also had the most important shell (boat) builder working for his team and this fellow had won a great deal of respect in the Rowing community for his crewing experience and his exquisite craftsmanship.  He studied the team when they practiced, no matter the weather or the freezing, rough seas.

The individual stories of the team and coaches were very interesting and held one’s attention and Joe certainly had a tough story to follow as his mother died and his stepmother abandoned him along the way.  After her death, Joe ended up raising her children and caring for them.  All of Seattle rallied behind their amazing crew team, raised the funds for the US competitions back on the east coast and then for the Olympic expedition.  Listening to the story about the races, had us on the edge of our seats with anticipation and several times we just sat in the car to hear the conclusion of a chapter or a race.

THE BOYS IN THE BOAT is a story about integrity and honest pursuit with big outcomes and finally a huge reward.   The training was rigorous and the coaching tough and productive.  The beautiful excerpts about building the boats graciously told.  Joe’s and the team member’s stories were tributes to teamwork and perseverance.   It was wonderful to figure out where each of the 9 spent their lives after the big race.  Brown is quite the storyteller and you will feel like you have been there rooting for the team in the crowd.

Official Website  (there is some official movie footage of the race)

About the Author:

“I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and attended Diablo Valley College, the University of California at Berkeley, and UCLA. I taught writing at San Jose State University and Stanford before becoming a technical writer and editor. I now write narrative nonfiction books full time. My primary interest as a writer is in bringing compelling historical events to life as vividly and accurately as I can.
I live in the country outside of Seattle, Washington with my wife, two daughters, and an assortment of cats, dogs, chickens, and honeybees. When I am not writing, I am likely to be birding, gardening, fly fishing, reading American history, or chasing bears away from the bee hives.” (from website)

Edward Herrman recently passed away from cancer.  He played the Grandfather on “Gilmore Girls” and many exceptional roles in his career.

This is a book you would want to recommend to your best friend.

Related:
A Snug Life Somewhere
Playing St. Barbara 
The Signature of All Things
Margaret Fuller 
Muckers 

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8 Responses to “THE BOYS IN THE BOAT: A True Story ~Daniel James Brown (Narrated by Edward Herrman)”

  1. Lisa Munley Says:

    I liked this one, too. My book club discussed it in December.

    Patricia Reply:

    Lisa,
    My book groups are both doing this book in March of this year. I gave it for 4 birthday gifts this year…..I think this is one with Universal appeal.

    And to think, by just reading this book we can actually be in tune with the experience and feel it within ourselves.
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  2. Laurie Buchanan Says:

    Patricia — I recommendation like this: “…a book the whole family – everyone you know will enjoy,” can’t be beat!

    Patricia Reply:

    Laurie
    I am sure you will like this one and I gave several copies for holiday gifts.

  3. Sara Says:

    I liked this review very much and it’s a book I’ll check out. I like inspirational stories. This one sounds like it will be a movie soon, as well. I’ll try to read it first!

    I was taken by the author’s write up and this line: “My primary interest as a writer is in bringing compelling historical events to life as vividly and accurately as I can.”

    As a lover of history, I greatly admire writers who seek to do what Daniel James Brown does. They are “true” storytellers and this is one of the most difficult writing challenges. To write about history in such a way to make it as riveting as this book obviously was to you, Patricia.

    I am sorry to hear about Edward Herrman’s death.

    Have a great weekend, Patricia:~)
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    patricia Reply:

    Sara,
    Thanks for you good wishes Sara and kind words. I am securing books to read and review through July right now and that makes life fun. The detective suspense books are huge this year and that made reading this lovely history book /true story such a wonderful change of pace. The book is incredible and both my book groups are working on this book for March of this year…

    I do think there will be a movie of this book. 16 Cities have chosen it for their summer reading experience this year. That is fun too

  4. Barbara Sanford Says:

    Read this with my bookclub in the fall and loved every bit. Some were afraid they would be bogged down in the middle by the description of the crafting the boats…but that was just the fodder to make the actual races more than just a win or lose. Instead it became a total race of fine craftmanship from skill, to hard work and training, to the kind of wood chosen for a particular part. Great history, but also great testimony to the fact that no singular part of what we do or who we are is without purpose and craft.
    This book is the Whatcom County reads choice for Feb. 2015 and the author will be at numerous events during the month. Read the Whatcom Library website for more information.

    patricia Reply:

    Barbara,
    That is exciting news about the Whatcom Library event and that the author will be in town to enjoy the experience. Kind of like his own personal Seahawk’s game and big win…

    I enjoyed the teamwork approach to the building of the boats and the boys development…it was a great lesson for sure on so many levels.

    Tom so often gives up on a book because he reads so slowly, but having the book read and being stuck in the car for most of the book was perfect and he has not stopped talking about it since we finished.

    Thank you for dropping by and commenting This book brought several thousand visitors to my site and some very interesting comments Thank you :)