Yes, we have rowers in our family and have spent the last 29 years volunteering at the Head of the Charles in Boston where the elite compete. So what a surprise it was to learn that rowing started on the West coast at the University of Washington and the rowers themselves were from working class families in the depths of the Great Depression. While this is a thrilling read for anyone in the rowing world, the author has uncovered a piece of American history that had fallen under the radar. Any reader will enjoy this stirring story of the underdogs who find the resolve in themselves to pull together. This is non-fiction that reads like fiction. Enjoy!
“A triumph of great writing matched with a magnificent story. Daniel James Brown strokes the keyboard like a master oarsman, blending power and grace to propel readers toward a heart-pounding finish. In Joe Rantz and his crewmates, Brown has rediscovered true American heroes who remind us that pulling together is the surest path to glory.”
– Mitchell Zuckoff, author of Lost in Shangri-La and Frozen in Time
“I really can’t rave enough about this book. Daniel James Brown has not only captured the hearts and souls of the University of Washington rowers who raced in the 1936 Olympics, he has conjured up an era of history. Brown’s evocation of Seattle in the Depression years is dazzling, his limning of character, especially the hardscrabble hero Joe Rantz, is novelistic, his narration of the boat races and the sinister-exalted atmosphere of Berlin in 1936 is cinematic. I read the last fifty pages with white knuckles, and the last twenty-five with tears in my eyes. History, sports, human interest, weather, suspense, design, physics, oppression and inspiration — The Boats in the Boat has it all and Brown does full justice to his terrific material. This is Chariots of Fire with oars.”–David Laskin, author of The Children’s Blizzard and The Long Way Home