Who would have imagined it; trounced by a university rowing team! At the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, a crew of young American lads won gold, defeating the German team who were expected to win. This is the story of these working-class boys, particularly young Joe Rantz who rises from adversity to participate in this triumphant event.
Capturing the difficult economic and social conditions in the US at the time, and the rise of Nazism in Europe, this is a moving and inspiring piece of history given full rein in this detailed story. [Small font]
This was an extremely popular book with our group.Five members gave it 10/10. We felt that we were in the boat with the men. The description was wonderful. It was an emotional story and also such an interesting historical record. Joe was such an amazing person who, despite such adversity, was never bitter. Ultimately it was a triumphant and uplifting book. Highly recommended. Christchurch 001
We all enjoyed this book despite the small print. Recommended by all. Good discussion held. Drummond 001
What a wonderful read. Most of our group had already read this and it was enjoyed again by all. If we had had this one before the survey ( to choose our favourite book) this would have beaten the others. An excellent, well written book. Winton 001
A very dense and verbose story using 10 words where one would do; it nevertheless told quite a compelling and interesting chapter in American social and sporting history. Essentially this was Joe Rantz's story, which was a pretty tragic one. It was amazing what he achieved when compared with his upbringing and circumstances.... Pukeko 001
We all loved 'The Boys in the Boat'. Some loved the detail about the rowing, others enjoyed the background stories of deprivation in the Depression, and the rise of Hitler. The photos added to the book's authenticity and enjoyment. A book to be highly recommended to others. Wellington 050
An excellent discussion. All enjoyed the book - some more than others. Small print not enjoyed. Enjoyed the history - led to greater understanding of the effects of the Depression. Author's style had us in the boat on tenterhooks. Ashburton 003
An excellent book. Provoked a lively and interesting discussion. Riversdale 001
Weaving social history and personal story together was cleverly done . Sometimes the story got a little lost in the exhaustive detail , but we took that as a sign of how invested the author was in his work . On the larger scale it did manage to tell a compelling story without lapsing into American Triumphalism . The small print was a challenge to some of us - and we felt the story could have been trimmed some what - but, nonetheless, an enjoyable read .
This book required serious attention with its dense content and small print, but unanimously we found it to be a profoundly affecting story, worth the effort to learn about this truly amazing tale of sacrifice and endurance.
Wonderful book. Initially some of the women in the group thought it was a 'boys' book' - but it turned out to be a wide ranging book about relationships, sport, camaraderie, the effect of the Great Depression and the international political climate. The narrative was exciting and moving, and the story inspiring. The story of George Pocock and his influence on the development of the shells, but also his significant influence on the psychology of the team, was illuminating.
"This is the best book we've read!" A comment from one of our members. Most other members also rated it 5 stars. We had a great discussion on all the positive elements the book added, as our meeting was held mid-way through the Olympic rowing finals. Two negatives that were mentioned was the small print and one member felt it was too verbose and could have been condensed somewhat.
We loved the story of a disadvantaged kid achieving amazing things, set in an fascinating time in history, and made even more compelling by the fact it's true. Great characters. Some of us loved it but we all thought it was too detailed in places. It may have simply been too dense for our heads to cope with at the beginning of lockdown. Most of us didn't finish it. Loved watching YouTube videos of the rowing in the Berlin Olympics.
Wow! What a great book - not one that any of us would have picked up off the library shelf, but a superb read. Everyone loved it. As one reader said, it had a real message for the youth of today - resilience and fortitude! For those who were not sports-minded a bit much about rowing itself, but everyone enjoyed the strength of character Joe showed despite the adversity of life. A great insight into the sport of rowing, showing discipline, teamwork, competitiveness and passion, and set in the threat of the Nazi occupation. Thoroughly recommended!
This exceeded all our expectations, those who read it loved it - several said it is not normally a book they would have chosen -so were delighted! A truly great story.
Our group really enjoyed the book, felt it was very well-written and researched, and read like non-fiction. Some found the technical aspects a bit tedious but it didn't detract from the book and its inspiring story of the USA Gold Medal rowing eight's journey to the 1936 olympics in Berlin, and also the background story of Joe Rantz and his family. Some found the small print challenging.
Most of our group enjoyed the read, but found it repetitive in places and over explained in others. However we enjoyed reading about Joe and his struggles.
Most of our group enjoyed this book, although found it a little tedious and repetitive in places. However, an interesting discussion followed where we discussed the techniques of rowing as written about in the book, and all felt more knowledgeable afterwards. Also of interest was the German history pre and during the games. Despite the small print a recommended read.
This was interesting! We all groaned when we first saw this book - NF and very small print. "Who chose that" HOWEVER, nearly all of us thoroughly enjoyed this book. Well written, very detailed, but a great read. Amazingly clear description of life in the 1930s, the depression years in the USA. Worthwhile, challenging read. We learnt a lot about rowing, USA, the Depression, 1936 Olympics, and pre-war years Germany. Most of all human resilience!
Those of us who read the book all say it was one of the best books we have ever read. Descriptions included inspiring, emotional, exciting and a phenomenal insight into the dark days of the 1930s.
A very interesting book, much enjoyed by the whole group. Some found it tailed off at the end a bit and others that the technicalities of rowing got a bit tedious, but otherwise well-written and exposed a time in history in the U.S. and Europe in a very interesting way. Thoroughly recommend.
Best book we've read in the BDS. Inspirational and very interesting historically.
We all loved this book. Extremely well-written and a gripping central story, but the interweaving of the family history of the rowers and the political/economic history of America and Germany further enriched the whole reading experience. Highly recommended by our group.
Everyone who managed to read the book enjoyed it, with several very impressed. However the print was very small which members found quite a challenge.
An inspirational read. We loved the history of the times as well as the rowing story, and also we loved the story of Joe.