Tag Archives: Sports

Review: The Boys in the Boat

The Boys in the Boat

The Boys in the Boat
By Daniel James Brown
Penguin Books, Paperback, 9780143125471, May 2014, 404pp.

The Short of It:

Nine young men from the University Washington’s rowing team go up against all odds to compete in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

The Rest of It:

A member from my book club said it best.

It’s not a story about the 1936 Berlin Olympics, but the journey these young men took to get there.

Most of the book centers around Joe Rantz. As it turns out, his daughter lived next door to the author and approached him about documenting her father’s story. After sitting down with him, it was obvious to Brown that Joe’s story had to be told.

Joe came from a humble home. His mother died when he was fairly young. His father remarried a very young woman. A woman who did not take a liking to Joe. Probably because he was a constant reminder of his father’s first wife. Needless to say, the father packs up his bride and Joe’s other siblings and eventually leaves Joe to fend for himself.

As a child, Joe realized that in order to survive, he’d have to live off the land. He had shelter but food was something he never had enough of. When he got old enough to work and go to college, he found himself at the University of Washington’s shell house and decided to go out for the rowing team.

There, he met some notable people. Al Ulbrickson, his relentless coach and George Pocock, who designed the racing shells that Joe spent so much time in. Together, these two men had quite an impact on Joe. He already possessed a good work ethic, but the respect that he had for these two men was evident and it touched everything he did.

Much of the story is how they got to the Olympics and what they had to overcome to get there. There were financial struggles for most of the boys. They didn’t have the money that their East Coast counterparts had. They battled illness, too. Almost to the point of death. The logistics of who could be in the boat and where, was a constant challenge for the coaches.  They would re-position the boys daily in an attempt to find the perfect combination.  It was grueling and it kept all of the boys on their toes, knowing that they could get cut at anytime.

The author did an excellent job of introducing the terminology without being too technical. I had no trouble following along. Although I did want to know more about the Berlin Olympics, the author does not spend much time on that subject. You should know this up front.

That said, I really enjoyed it. The members of my book club seemed to enjoy it too. There is plenty to talk about between the sport itself, the coaching style, the personal lives of these young men and what was going on in the world at the time. I don’t read much non-fiction but this one was a nice surprise.

Source: Borrowed
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The Sunday Salon: Three Day Weekend

Track Meet Saturdays

Well, it’s been a fun but crazy weekend. Friday, a retired co-worker came for a visit so a group of co-workers and I headed to a local restaurant for dinner. That was a nice way to start off the weekend. Lots of laughs for sure.

Saturday, we had another track meet. This time, it was an away meet and about a 45-minute drive to get there but the surrounding campus was very pretty. I didn’t mind the view one bit. And this time we brought the umbrella so sun was not an issue. Thank goodness. We got there around 7:45 am and it ended around 3pm. The Girl did great! No injuries and no tossing her cookies! It was a good meet. And that red thing you see is not a tent. They are called Sport Brellas and are low profile umbrella/tents. They are all over the place and we will be getting one real soon.

The Teen was not able to come with us due to a mandatory dress rehearsal but he called us to tell us about the 3rd or 4th earthquake that hit while he was taking a shower. I think it spooked him a little but as many as we’ve head in the past 72 hours, this is nothing compared to the Northridge quake. It does make me wonder if something larger is just around the corner though.

Last night, we attended a movie event at our church. They showed the movie Soul Surfer, which is about Bethany Hamilton, a surfer who was attacked by a shark back in 2003 at the age of thirteen. She lost an arm in that attack and our church scheduled the movie night in anticipation of her visit. I was worried The Girl would not be able to watch parts of it but she was okay.

Bethany Hamilton
Photo credit: Wikipedia

We had a great time at the movie event. The Girl invited a friend and her family to come and we all had a really good time. But on the way home, the church sent an email warning of large crowds for Sunday services. This morning, we decided to stay home and watch her speak online. I really wanted to go to the service but the line wait was over an hour-long and they were only letting 1000 people in for sure so watching online was the next best option. It was a good talk but I think watching online was fine.

Sunday Salon

What’s going on for the rest of the day? Laundry and cleaning and maybe some reading. The Teen is off for more rehearsing and later he is performing in a Master Chorale performance.

I am rather happy because this is a three-day weekend for me since my campus is closed on Monday in observance of Cesar Chavez day. Yay!! And guess what? The kids have school which means it’s a ME day.

What am I reading?

I am reading lots of good stuff. I started Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and love it. I am almost done with Casebook by Mona Simpson and really, really love it. I am about to start a third book but don’t know what yet. I don’t want to break my reading mojo by choosing the wrong book.

What am I cooking?

Nothing. Just not in the mood. I am going to try to convince The Hub to pick-up something for dinner later. Chinese or maybe some chopped salads. Scratch that. He just told me NO on Chinese take-out. Drats!

What am I watching?

Tonight is the season finale of The Walking Dead. The rumors are flying that a major, beloved character will be killed. I will totally lose it if my beloved Daryl Dixon gets killed off!! I can’t even bear to think about it.

Well, the washer is ready for the next load so off I go. What do you have planned for today? Something more glamorous than laundry, I hope.