Book Review: The Boys in the Boat
So, I read, The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics written by Daniel James Brown
There is so much in this book. It’s not just about these nine boys. This is a unique look at history. What was going on in Hitler’s Germany, while these boys were growing up in Washington State? I haven’t read a lot about Washington (state of) and this was interesting, seeing its place in the earlier days of our nation’s development. It’s a different face on the Greatest Generation. What was it that grew that greatness? What was happening of profound change in America in those days preceding 1936, those days now known as The Great Depression? These were the years that the winds were blowing and depositing tons of black rich topsoil from the Nation’s Breadbasket onto cities like Chicago that already was being buried in other things, and turning the center of our nation into a moonscape. It was also an era of unmatched creativity and invention. And they lived through it all.
The other night Dave and I watched Patton and saw our soldiers walking through the snow to the Ardennes. How did they do that? Reading this book I realized most of them had been training all their growing up years for just that moment. They had walked far distances everyday with rags and towels around their feet walking to school in the snow and rain without adequate clothing and boots. They’d grown up without comfort, survived with esprit de corps, family, other Americans as down trodden or more so than themselves. They never expected comfort, but worked and gave so others would have it.
This is a story of our country divided by geography: East and West. And how the sport of crew created a new respect between the moneyed East and the not-moneyed West, and that moment when eliteness and class become a blur behind tears of victory, awe and disappointment.
It’s the story of the development of a sport through fierce rivalry and sports news writers in need of something new to write about. I knew very little about Crew as a sport. I still don’t know much. But I enjoyed seeing it from the inside out, learning about the boat, the physical strength and endurance required, how nine men become one, physically, and mentally and win.
I give it a high five and recommend it to all my book-loving friends.