The Boys in the Boat photo

In the 1936 Olympics final the University of Washington team (at top) won by 0.6 seconds over Italy (2nd from bottom) and 1 second over Germany (bottom). Photo courtesy of University of Washington Archive. 

This book was born on a cold, drizzly, late spring day when I clambered over the split-rail cedar fence that surrounds my pasture and made my way through wet woods to the modest frame house where Joe Rantz lay dying. Stay with me here. Last week I blogged about my summer reading roundup here. I have a list of books that I want to read and had every intention of reading The Rumor next. However, as I was looking through my “electronic library” (I have the Kindle app for an iPad) I realized that I had bought the Kindle version of The Boys in the Boat but had not started on it yet. I read the first sentence (the same one that began this blog post) and the author, Daniel James Brown, masterfully drew me in with his narrative nonfiction, and I was up until late in the evening reading. I haven’t finished it yet, I can tell already that it will be one of those books that I will love reading every page and be bummed when it ends. Below is an excerpt from the prologue that nicely sums up what you can expect if you decide to read this book.

‘I knew only two things about Joe when I knocked on his daughter Judy’s door that day. I knew that in his midseventies he had single-handedly hauled a number of cedar logs down a mountain, then hand-slpit the rails and cut the posts and installed all 2,224 linear feet of the pasture fence i had just climbed over – a task so herculean I shake my head in wonderment whenever I think about it. And I knew that he had been one of nine young men from the state of Washington – farm boys, fishermen, and loggers who shocked both the rowing world and Adolf Hitler by winning the gold medal in eight-oared rowing at the 1936 Olympics.’

 

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