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

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4.35  ·  Rating details ·  188,340 ratings  ·  19,883 reviews
For readers of Laura Hillenbrand's Seabiscuit and Unbroken, the dramatic story of the American rowing team that stunned the world at Hitler's 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Daniel James Brown's robust book tells the story of the University of Washington's 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans. The sonsOlympics.

Daniel
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Hardcover, 416 pages
Published June 4th 2013 by Viking
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Karen Yes! There are so many metaphors of life woven into the story of each boy's position in the boat! It is such a well written book. It draws you in and…moreYes! There are so many metaphors of life woven into the story of each boy's position in the boat! It is such a well written book. It draws you in and makes you fall in love with the characters. It is our book club choice for November.(less)
Caitlin I would say if you have ever seen rowing (even practice) that it is an engaging book. You do not have to be a sports enthusiast in the least to enjoy…moreI would say if you have ever seen rowing (even practice) that it is an engaging book. You do not have to be a sports enthusiast in the least to enjoy it, as it covers biography, Dust Bowl, the Depression, and the beginnings of Nazi Germany, so it creates a historical setting as well as an athletic one.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.35  · 
Rating details
 ·  188,340 ratings  ·  19,883 reviews


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Donna
Sep 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
I don't know why I put off reading this book so long, except I was reading other things. BUT when I went to visit my son, who is the grandson of Joe Rantz and named his son Joe after him, I began reading their copy and could not put it down. Everything else I was reading was put aside.

I then realized I would not finish it before I had to leave and besides, I wanted to OWN it. So I got the Kindle version. Besides, my son was also reading it and we had two book marks, his and mine in the book. So
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Trish
Jun 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If I told you one of the most propulsive reads you will experience this year is the non-fiction story of eight rowers and one coxswain training to attend the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, you may not believe me. But you’d need to back up your opinion by reading this book first, and you will thank me for it. Daniel James Brown has done something extraordinary here. We may already know the outcome of that Olympic race, but the pacing is exceptional. Brown juxtaposes descriptions of crew training in Sea ...more
Matthew
I love books and movies that get you interested in sports you never cared about before. Also, I love how the Olympics does the same thing. You turn on the TV and suddenly life itself depends on the outcome of some not quite mainstream sport like biathlon, cycling, diving, curling, etc. - and, while watching, you become an expert at all the finer points of the sport. The Boys in the Boat is the perfect example of this type of story. And, with the Winter Olympics coming up, the perfect way to whet ...more
Brina
Jul 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
I read this book because my father kept telling me that I would enjoy it. Truthfully, l finally picked up so he would stop nagging me about it even though it is about sports and history- my two favorite things.
Boys in the Boat is the motivational story of Joe Rantz, his wife Joyce, and the other members of the 1936 Washington University rowing team that won gold at the Berlin Olympics. This story is partially the story of Joe's perseverance during the depression and also his rowing team's quest
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Angela M
Feb 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks

I honestly didn’t think I would be interested in a book about rowing, but I just couldn’t ignore the fact that so many people loved this book. I added it to my list of books to read about three years ago and I’m so glad that I finally got to it because it was about so much more than the sport. Nine young men making up the USA Rowing Team in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin weren’t just rowing for a medal, they “were rowing for a set of values, a way of life”. They were the USA Olympics Rowing Team co
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Diane S ☔
May 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If someone had told me I would become emotionally invested is a book about rowing, I would have thought they were crazy. First, I knew little about rowing and second, I had no desire to learn. A read for a group I am in had me picking up this book and I am so glad I did. As many mothers have said, try it before you decode you don't like it.

An amazing balance of human interest, history and sport. Joe Rantz's story had my mothers heart wanting to give his ten year old self a big hug. H
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Emily
Jul 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014, nonfiction, history
This book was all right, but there was just too much of it and the title isn't very descriptive. It's really only about one of the nine "boys in the boat," plus their coach and the boatbuilder. Oh, and Hitler.

Perhaps the author came to the project 10-15 years too late; only one of the main subjects survived to be interviewed by 2006, and that figure (Joe Rantz) makes the book worthwhile. Having grown up dirt poor, abandoned by his family, with a strong work ethic and a charming, loyal fiancée,
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Jen
Dec 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
Why did I wait so long to read this? Well, a couple of reasons: 1) It’s about rowing…No offense, it’s just not a sport I’m wowed by. 2) It’s about a group of Americans going to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Hey, I’m Canadian, eh... American patriotism and propaganda isn’t my gig.
So finally I picked it up; put it down. Then thought to hell with it, I’m doing this. I cracked the spine, sat down and for the last few days, every spare moment has been living and breathing this story.

It st
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Elyse Walters
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Wow!!!

The books power is in the storytelling. Starts right out on page 1

These were remarkable men -their sacrifice - committed dedication - had to scape for everything -their boat wasn't just handed to them... not all had cozy supportive families.
Joe Rantz's humanity - especially - makes you want to be a better human being yourself.
All these men were humble - with committed dedication -- they were a team. Proud to be American!

With the American depression -the dust bowl -the rise
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Dem
Jul 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Dem by: Diane
Shelves: favorites, 5-star, ww2


The Boys In The Boat in an extremely beuatifually written account of the Universary of Washingtons's Rowing team that won a gold Metal in 1936 Berlin Olympics'

I had no real desire to read a book about sport let alone read a book about rowing but something about a frinds's review here on goodreads pushed me to read this book and I am so glad I did as I loved every moment of it.

I read this on Kindle (oh how I wish I owned a Hard Copy of this book) and I listened to it on audio and wh
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Carmen
Sep 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Non-Fiction Fans, History Buffs
Everyone should have heard of this book by now. It's about the crew team that won the gold medal in the Berlin Olympics.

This is really perfect from a non-fiction standpoint. We have poverty and hard work - Joe, our focus, is very poor and works insanely hard just to afford food.

We have Hitler's Germany - always a winner if you want to sell books.

We have Americans triumphing on an international stage, "sticking it to Hitler," as it were. Surefire winner there.<
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Cheeky Cher
May 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
4 stars - It was great. I loved it.

The fact that I had no interest in, and in fact dreaded reading this book club selection yet ending up loving it, is testament to how compelling this inspirational story was.

I have no interest in rowing. Actually, I have no interest in sports. Thankfully, this is not just a book about rowing and Olympic races. The author seamlessly weaves in details about Germany and Hitler's rise to power, the dust bowl, America in post-depression years and on the cusp of WWII, and
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Cathrine ☯️
Mar 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
To be able to tell a story about an event where the outcome is known ahead of time, about a subject the reader has no interest in, the pages seemingly turning themselves and keeping one riveted all the way is some feat. A team of nine boys, sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, whose coach would come to think of as the greatest racing crew in history, take us on a vision quest through the depression years. Hard work, sheer guts, extreme determination, and supreme respect for one anothe ...more
Jonetta
May 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jonetta by: Cathrine
This is a bit more than the story of the 1936 Olympic crew challenge by the team from the University of Washington. Using one of the crew members as the focus, it combines his personal experience against the backdrop of the important historical events of that era (the 1929 stock market crash and resultant depression, the dust bowls, the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich, etc.). It made for a richer story with the added context.

While the backgrounds and histories of the other members of the 9-m
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Britany
Jun 11, 2015 rated it it was ok
I'm going to start off by saying that I'm in the minority on this one, and I'm ok with that.

I felt like I was rowing through the Nile River getting through this book. I wanted it to be great, I wanted it to read like a narrative story, and most of all, I wanted to connect to the characters. I mean, who wouldn't love poor Joe Rantz- a guy that comes from nothing and literally gets left behind by his family- succeed at something?? The story at small points held my interest, and the last chapter w
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Brian
Feb 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
“Like so much in life, crew was partly about confidence, partly about knowing your own heart.”

I really enjoy books that find a human story in the midst of a larger historical drama. “The Boys In The Boat” is such a book. Although its primary focus is the sport of rowing, and specifically the sport on the west coast of the US, and more specifically at the University of Washington and 9 crew members and the coaching staff there, it also captures an era and the first 40 years of the 20t
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Carol
Sep 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed reading about The Boys In The Boat and their quest to win US GOLD at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. While a bit heavy on the practice runs (for me) the excitement of the actual races kept me engrossed as well as the heartbreaking personal background of Joe Rantz, and his struggles to overcome adversity.

Although not particularly a fan of boat racing, I found this work of non-fiction and the many tidbits of historical data laced throughout the story informative and memorable...........a truly amazing and inspirationaladversity.

Although
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Esil
Sep 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to The Boys in the Boat on audio, which was a good way to absorb this book. It's the story of the US rowing victory in the 1936 Olympics. There's way more to this book than "they worked hard, and then they won". Daniel James Brown cleverly pulls together a lot of great information, which I listened to in 40 minute increments on my walk to work every morning. He focuses particularly on one of the oarsmen, Joe Rantz, giving a very detailed portrait of his family, background and characte ...more
Michael
Oct 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Quite an uplifting story of the young men from the University of Washington who took the gold medal for nine-men shell rowing at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Like Hillenbrand’s wonderful book “Seabiscuit” this is a tale of underdogs overcoming personal adversities and capturing the attention of a nation laid low by the Great Depression. Starting in 1933, we get the story of a young man, Joe Rantz, arriving at the college and merging the dreams from his hardscrabble life with that of other sons o ...more
Geza Tatrallyay
Feb 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It is a study of human struggle, teamwork, the striving for perfection. As a former Olympic athlete, I can understand what these boys went through to achieve a dream -- and that for some, the dream comes alive as they struggle, and then the struggle only becomes more intense. Also, set against the backdrop of the Berlin Olympics, the struggle is just that much more poignant. My grandfather who was the official doctor of the Hungarian team in 1936, left a wonderful book for me ...more
Cathy
Sep 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is so good you won't want to pick up another book for a while after finishing it, knowing that nothing else could be this good. High marks for story, characters, writing, and research. Nine University of Washington students, the sons of loggers, farmers, and miners, overcome many disadvantages of their impoverished circumstances and learn to row their eight-oared racing shell to perfection. The transcendent experience of coming together as a team doesn't happen without a struggle, and ...more
Perry
Mar 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Vivid part of "eternal landscape of the past" embodying the "mighty hopes that make us men" and women*
Story of Glory, Evocative of Greek Mythology


Jesse Owens Wins Olympic Gold in 100 meter sprint, as Hitler watches on


1936 U.S. Olympic Rowing Team

You probably already know this book is about the majestic quest of the U.S. rowing team for Olympic gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. I doclass="gr-hostedUserImg">
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Chrissie
Jul 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
I am not competitive and team sports do not enthuse me, yet still I got excited and was rooting for the American team. Crazy but true. Every darn reviewer says the same thing! I have to explain what I think happened to me.

It took me a while to feel the excitement. Half-way through the book I had an epiphany. The reason why I am not into competitive team sports is not that I couldn’t care less who wins, but that I am one who doesn't and never has enjoyed working together in a group. I am a loner
...more
Quirkyreader
May 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book had been on my TBR pile for a while and I read it as part of one of the challenges I participate in.

I throughly enjoyed Brown's writing style. It made the book un-putdownable. I wanted to keep going to the end.

In this sport history book you will find characters who will wrench your heart and that you keep rooting for. This rowing crew started out as rag-tag but eventually became a whole unit.

Mostly, if you are feeling down, this work is very inspirin
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Michael
May 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio-book, 2015
Surely one of the best books I've read, and undoubtedly one of the finest audiobooks ever produced. Without any bells, whistles, or voices, Edward Hermann magnificently narrates the story of 9 ordinary kids and their extraordinary path to Olympic gold.

It's one of those rare works of non-fiction: one that told me the whole story, and yet left me wanting to find out so much more.
BAM The Bibliomaniac
Mar 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
2018 Reading Challenge: involves a sport

Joe's story is breaking my heart💔
Linda
Sep 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
My high school boyfriend went to college at MIT and joined crew. He sent me his workout jersey and I slept in it until we broke up. We both looked at "crew" the same way: upper class, rich boys' sport. Something slightly risqué for an unathletic Midwestern engineering student to do. Now I live in Seattle, near what I have discovered is the hub of the West Coast rowing Mecca - University of Washington.

I always keep my eye out for interesting books to read. Now that I live in the Pacif
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Pam
Jun 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Finally a 5 for a non-fiction read! Not since Moneyball : The Art of Winning an Unfair Game and Seabiscuit: An American Legend have we had a sports book this good! This story about the University of Washington crew team that won gold at the 1936 Olympics is fantastic and oh so much more than a book about crew, sports, or merely nine guys. It cover the depression, collegiate crew, Leni Riefenstahl's role in the rise of Nazi power, emergent of the Western states, and the magic that can happen when individua ...more
Nancy Oakes
Dec 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, nonfiction

Considering that I'm not at all a sports person, it seems odd to me that I would even be reading a book about the University of Washington crew team. I didn't know what to expect, but after reading the first chapter I was totally hooked. It only got better from there. The brief review is this: I loved this very well-written, carefully-researched and compelling book, and the bottom line is that it's one I can recommend very highly -- a book that absolutely should not be missed. You don't have to
...more
David
Nov 16, 2014 rated it liked it
What a hodge-podge mix of interesting and at other times dull events! The book jacket calls it "breathtaking" and I've not found that yet. It also says it's a "suspenseful tale of triumph" and I haven't found the suspense yet. The back jacket terms it "riveting" and I haven't found that yet. Turns out that about 60% through the story, the author kicks it in. The last of 4 sections picks up the pace and is a fine telling of an interesting story, and it becomes a fascinating tale of strategy, stre ...more
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Book Review 2 14 Nov 21, 2018 03:52PM  
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Daniel James Brown fell in love with the written word when he was five and his mother first read Danny and the Dinosaur to him. Since then he has earned a BA in English from the University of California at Berkeley and an MA in English from UCLA. He has taught writing at San Jose State University and Stanford University and now lives in the country east of Redmond, Washington, where he writes nonf ...more
“It’s not a question of whether you will hurt, or of how much you will hurt; it’s a question of what you will do, and how well you will do it, while pain has her wanton way with you.” 71 likes
“It takes energy to get angry. It eats you up inside. I can't waste my energy like that and expect to get ahead. When they left, it took everything I had in me just to survive. Now I have to stay focused. I've just gotta take care of it myself' Joe Rantz” 61 likes
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