The story is enough.

The story is enough.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

"My primary interest as a writer is in bringing compelling historical events to life as vividly and accurately as I can.”

What can I say about The Boys in the Boat that has not already been said – over and over again?  At some point accolades become trite and lose their meaning.  Yet not so here.

This book is magic.  It is real life –  yet larger than life.  It is about real boys – men – but also heroes.  It is about a time of desperation and fear – and about hope and radiance.  The power of the human spirit.  It speaks of our need for connection in order to tap into our highest sense of faith in self.   And trust in those around us.

It has already been summarized eloquently:  nine college boys, new to the sport of crew, come together during the Depression at the University of Washington, with skill sets that come from laboring backgrounds.  They impress the world as they progress to the 1936 Olympics - defeating the elite, the privileged, the Nazis - winning the gold medal.

What is so fantastic about this telling is the idea that each historical event has a personal story at its heart.  It’s why we bother to care 80 years later.  And this is the story of Joe Rantz and the other 8 boys that made up the heroic team.

Each chapter is introduced with a quote by George Yeoman Pocock: shell builder, rower, artisan, and philosopher.  We are brought into this generation – globally and locally – and are given context to understand the immensity of what the boys accomplished.  There are pictures framing the time period, the events, the boys and their boat.   We see the story from different vantage points, giving us an appreciation of what this story meant then – and what it means now.

Daniel James Brown says he takes five years to research and write his books.  They become labors of love.  The care and attention create a compelling story that is beautiful, moving, and memorable.

Photo credit:,204,203,200_.jpg

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