An amazing piece of history!
"The Boys in the Boat" is the telling of a true story about 9 American boys, rowing against the odds to compete for gold at the Olympics in 1936. Not just any Olympics either, but Hitler's.
This story amazes me on so many levels. The author follows the story of Joe Rantz (one of the 9 boys) closely. Rantz's life unfolds, starting with a childhood chopped short because of family predicaments. He had to strive solo past many of life's struggles at a young age, all the way into college, where he finally found his passion waiting for him. Many times in history it's usually the people with a tough past who will perform the hardest and work for all their worth, because they have nothing to lose, and so, they become someone greater than they thought they could be. This is the inspiring note I have taken from Joe Rantz's life.
These Washington state boys worked their hardest for years, to turn into an Olympic-worthy crew. Through frigid weather, icy rain, the rawest of emotions, and unyielding physical pain, they suffered through it all as one team for victory. They paddled for the crowning moment of any athlete's dream: competing for Olympic gold. I found myself so engrossed in every chapter, hungry for the strategy of the next race, or the next level in their grueling, back-breaking work, or the fine details of the graceful, timeless art of rowing.
"In a sport like this--hard work, not much glory, but still popular in every century--well, there must be some beauty which ordinary men can't see, but extraordinary men do."
--George Yeoman Pocock (found in the prologue)
In the midst of this epic journey across the water, you also learn about an important, yet hidden away, part of the world's past. Swastikas flashed across Germany, Nazis began their marches, Jews (and other races of people that Hitler didn't deem as superior) were being discriminated against, and Adolf Hitler was pulling off one of the biggest covert missions in history. When the entire world visited Germany in 1936 for the Olympics, Hitler toned down his act just enough, so that when the Games were over and everyone went home, the world still remained largely unaware of his horrific deeds. Most did not know that war loomed in the near future. This book capitalized on explaining this thoroughly, and described so vividly how Germany appeared splendid in the eyes of the Americans, with its taunting displays of grandeur.
"The Boys in the Boat" is purely non-fiction, with boundless details of actual events, and thick with chronicled facts. I loved it. However, I imagine that for many readers out there, this may not be the most entertaining read. The book delves into several mini-biographies, and you must keep your head on straight to remember which story belongs to which person. When you put it all together, this book really is amazing.