Sunday, April 12, 2015

Kristin's Book Review: The Boys in the Boat

My friend Kristin Wroblewski, an avid reader, is a guest reviewer on this blog. This is her review of the NYT #1 bestseller, The Boys on The Boat, a Remarkable True Story


For readers of Unbroken, out of the depths of the Depression comes an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times—the improbable, intimate account of how nine working-class boys from the American West showed the world at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin what true grit really meant.

It was an unlikely quest from the start. With a team composed of the sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the University of Washington’s eight-oar crew team was never expected to defeat the elite teams of the East Coast and Great Britain, yet they did, going on to shock the world by defeating the German team rowing for Adolf Hitler. The emotional heart of the tale lies with Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not only to regain his shattered self-regard but also to find a real place for himself in the world. Drawing on the boys’ own journals and vivid memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, Brown has created an unforgettable portrait of an era, a celebration of a remarkable achievement, and a chronicle of one extraordinary young man’s personal quest.

The Boys In the Boat a Remarkable True Story

The generation of men who went off to war after Pearl Harbor were mercilessly
bombed on that fateful morning in December, are now referred to as, in
no small part thanks to Journalist Tom Brokaw, The Greatest Generation. They,
and the loved ones they left behind to fight the war on the Homefront are given
this label because they, without question, saw a call to duty to defend the

However, in the 1930's, America was in the gripes of The Great Depression
while across the ocean in Germany, a thug named Adolf Hitler was slowly
gaining momentum.There is another story as well. The story of the nine men
from the University of Washington and their remarkable journey to the 1936
Olympics in Berlin. They came from all over the state of Washington and all
socioeconomic backgrounds. They had a common bond, rowing. A sport that
is usually reserved for the elite boarding schools of Eaton and Harrow and
universities such as Oxford and Cambridge and Ivy League Institutions.
Schools such as Stanford and Cal Berkely fell into this category and already
had strong traditions by the time nine young men from Washington made
people sit up and take notice. Within this amazing story of courage and perseverance,
the stories of the rowers themselves are intertwined.

While the nine young men, their coach, and their boat maker were
not well known, there are three names you will come across that will be recognizable.
Jesse Owens, Louis Zamperini and a man, a Brit, by the last name of
Laurie. His son would become a very well known actor many years later.
There are so many stories about the Second World War on the market to
read. This is a good thing because it ensures that The Greatest Generation will
live on through their stories, even after they gone. 

The members of the University of Washington rowing team who went to Berlin in 1936 are all deceased now. Their contribution to the war effort was not through physical
fighting, although many of them did enlist after Pearl Harbor. Theirs was a victory
of the hearts and the minds of America. In the face of tyranny, they made

America believe.