Daniel James Brown’s nonfiction history of “The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics” was a riveting and inspiration retelling of the drama that unfolded at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany overseen by Adolf Hitler himself.
The story not only covers the lives of some of the oarsmen on the team from the times of them growing up as poor, country boys in Washington to melding into a dynamic Freshman team at the University of Washington, and then their tumultuous season leading up to the Olympic time trials in Princeton, NJ. The story melds into the background the great crash on Wall Street that affected all of the country, even the remote parts of Washington state thousands of miles away. It included the effects of the Dust Bowl sweeping through the country during the same period. Finally, coursing through the story was the unsettling news out of Europe and the fascist dictators in Germany and Italy and their “coming out” party to world in the 1936 Olympics.
All of these elements and the dramatic fashion in which the Washington team reached the Olympics and stunned the world made for an excellent read about a mostly forgotten story.