Tuesday, June 20, 2017

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

A delightful read, all around. If I had any issues with it, they were at the beginning.

If you ignore the blather about rowing being the most difficult sport ever, the beginning is palatable. For goodness sake, there are tons of sports that involve folks pushing past the limits of their endurance to just. go. one. more. little. bit. further. Just ask any runner, for instance.

So, that was ridiculous, but after that it is beautifully written. At its core, it's showcasing the personal growth of one specific member of the boat, while simultaneously telling the tale of their journey to the Olympics (hey, if you don't know they won, you're not paying close enough attention) and the sheer horror of Hitler's administration. Because Brown got to speak directly with that crew member and his daughter, there is a consistently strong element of veracity that really shapes and brings meaning to the story he's telling.

There were several times in this book when he brought tears to my eyes - especially at the end when he describes how life treated each "boy" after the Olympics, but also during the lead-up to the games when you realize how many false starts occurred, how often chance intervened in their favor, and how difficult it was to become the team they wanted to be.

Read this book if you want to remember the value of cooperation and what it can do for the human spirit.

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