The Boys in the Boat

Author Daniel James Brown met Joe Rantz only in the last weeks of Joe’s life, but asked Joe and his daughter if he could write Joe’s story. Joe said no, but that he could write the story of all the boys in the boat, the crew team from the University of Washington which developed its swing during the Great Depression and eventually won the Olympic gold medal in 1936 in Germany, overcoming a bad start, a horrible lane assignment and the deafening roar of the crowd shrieking “Deutchland, Deutchland, Deutchland” in rhythm with the swing of the German crews oars.

The book is very much centered on the process of becoming a champion oarsman, but it also demonstrates the will and drive of people faced with adversity, drawing strength from one another, working to perform as a unit, overcoming all obstacles. There’s plenty of history covered here, giving context to the rowing of the nine young men striving for success in their 8-oared cedar shell.

This is the kind of book which belongs on a social studies recommended reading list. There, I’ve recommended it.

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