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Daniel James Brown was born in Berkeley, California. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English at the University of California at Berkeley and a Master of Arts degree from the University of California at Los Angeles. He has taught writing at San Jose State University and Stanford University. vis mere He is the author of The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride, Under a Flaming Sky: The Great Hinckley Firestorm of 1894, and The Boys in the Boat. (Bowker Author Biography) vis mindre

Omfatter også følgende navne: Daniel James Brown, Brown Daniel James

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CooperB5: Boys in The Boat i Book talk (september 2016)


In this literary historical narrative, Daniel James Brown tells the story of nine young men who became national heroes during the Great Depression. They were members of the University of Washington's eight-oared rowing crew (and the coxswain) who represented the USA at the Olympic Games in Berlin in 1936. These student athletes all came from working class backgrounds and they all had to struggle to make their way academically into college as well as spending countless hours practicing on Lake Washington.

Brown offers a background history of all 9 members of the University of Washington crew, but focuses most deeply on Joe Rantz, the poorest of the boys. Rantz was forced to live on his own by his father and step-mother at the age of 15 and carries the feeling of abandonment to the University of Washington where he's bullied for being poor. Through the crew he finds acceptance and a sense of purpose. The book also talks about the life and career of the team's no-nonsense coach Al Ulbrickson, who had been a student rower at Washington less than a decade earlier. The poetic English boat builder George Yeomans Pocock also plays a big part in the story. Working in the loft of the Washington shell house, Pocock built wooden racing shells that were renown throughout the country, and served as a mentor for young athletes like Rantz,

Starting in 1933, Rantz's freshman year, Brown details Ulbrickson's plans to form a crew that could compete in the 1936 Olympics. Collegiate rowing at the time was an extremely popular spectator sport with national radio coverage. Despite all the time they spent practicing, there were only two major annual competitions on Washington's calendar. The first was a race against their archrivals at University of California. The other was a race on the Hudson River at Poughkeepsie, New York against several elite Eastern universities. Washington and Cal had only begun challenging the Eastern schools' supremacy in the 1920s. In 1936, the Washington crew teams (including JV and Freshmen) swept all of these events before also winning at the US Olympic Trials for the right to represent the country in Berlin.

Throughout the book, Brown offers the parallel story of Aldolf Hitler planning to use the games to show the world that Nazi Germany was a powerful - but -benign - nation. This included deceiving the US Olympic Committee about the true severity of discrimination against German Jews when the USOC was under pressure from protestors to boycott the games in Berlin. The final chapters detail the experience of the Washington crew in Germany, including the dramatic final race. The fact that we know the team will win gold should make it anticlimatic, but since the Washington team had a habit of coming from behind to win races (while facing challenges like a deliriously sick member of the crew) makes the race descriptions exciting. Even if you know nothing about rowing, Brown describes the tactics and terminology so well that the reader is well-versed in it by the Olympic races.
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Othemts | 259 andre anmeldelser | Feb 24, 2024 |
BooksInMirror | 259 andre anmeldelser | Feb 19, 2024 |
A deep, intimate look at the men who rowed in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. It wasn't a miracle - it was tenacity and trust between the rowers that made the seemingly impossible a reality.
ohheybrian | 259 andre anmeldelser | Feb 13, 2024 |
In 1936, nine working-class boys from the University of Washington went to the Berlin Olympics in a quest for the gold medal. Their sport: rowing, a sport of which George Yeoman Pocock said, "That is the formula for endurance and success: rowing with the heart and the head as well as physical strength." It is an emotional, mental, and physical sport which, in this particular case, asks that nine human beings be in perfect tune with each other.

Author Daniel James Brown does an excellent job of putting his story into the context of the world stage, a time in which Hitler was determined to become master of the world-- and also a time when the world was still in the grip of the Depression.

At the heart of The Boys in the Boat is Joe Rantz of the University of Washington rowing team. At the age of ten, he was abandoned by his parents. Joe's father was willing to follow the lead of his second wife, a woman who decided that there were too many mouths to feed and that this child had to go. At one point, she told him, "Make your own life, Joe. Stay out of ours." Brown builds his story from the boys' journals and vivid memories, and it's a true Cinderella story. These boys were competing in an elite sport normally thought of as belonging to the privileged rich of the East Coast.

Often compared to Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken, I found The Boys in the Boat more in tune with another of her books, Seabiscuit: An American Legend, with its emphasis on sport, the Depression, and a fascinating cast. As much as I savored the stories of the boys on the University of Washington rowing team, I also appreciated the in-depth look at the sport of rowing itself. I never knew how popular it was in the 1930s or how demanding it was.

If you're in the mood for a thrilling, eye-opening, often heart-wrenching, slice of history, I highly recommend The Boys in the Boat.
… (mere)
cathyskye | 259 andre anmeldelser | Feb 10, 2024 |



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