Western Reads 2014-15 Selection: The Boys in the Boat
Brown’s non-fiction book details the story of the University of Washington crew team that won gold during the 1936 Olympics. The sons of dairy farmers, loggers, and fishermen, most had never rowed a day in their life and many were the first in their families to go to college. Suffice it to say, many of the boys couldn’t have attended and completed college without being on the crew team. Yet, this rag tag group went on to beat the privileged East Coast crews and the elite British clubs at Cambridge and Oxford. In the final race, they stunned the World by winning gold as Hitler looked on. Commentators suggested that the boys’ victory demonstrated, finally, that merit outweighed birthright; the boys also showed the U.S. the power of pulling together and the hope that the Nazis would not prevail. In short, the crew team personified grit, determination, and optimism—qualities that serve anyone well.
The story of one rower, Joe Rantz, is particularly moving as his family abandoned him at an early age. Finding his own way to complete his education, rowing became a way of believing in himself, of finding meaning in the world, and of creating his own sense of family. Set in the Great Depression and the 1936 Olympics, this story provides an in-depth look at the history of the period. The book is a fabulous read that many describe as a “page turner.” We hope you will read the book and take advantage of all the activities that will be happening in the year ahead. Watch the Book's Trailer