*****Please note that this review appeared previously in the blog "Girl Who Reads"*****
rarely read non-fiction, and I've never rowed. I can count on one hand
the number of crew races I've watched on television in my lifetime.
The books I choose to read are based on suggestions from a trusted
circle of friends, and they are invariably fiction. So, whatever possessed me to buy this book?
friend outside my reading circle raved about it on Facebook, so I
decided to look it up. I'd never heard of it and was knee-deep in my
third re-reading of the Outlander books in preparation for the start of
its second season in April. Olympic rowers were not on my radar
screen. Yet when I checked on Amazon, there were over 17,000 reviews,
and 81% were five stars. The other 19% were four stars. My interest
was piqued. How could so many people love a book that sounded kind of
ho-hum to me? I still had some money left on a holiday gift
certificate, so that made it a little less painful to take a chance and
check it out.
Yowza...I'm glad I did.
sport of crew (rowing) is, for the most part, Eastern elitist. What
kind of chance did Depression-era young men have in the Seattle,
Washington area? I wondered if I were in for a deadly dull read about
Rowing Rocky-types. Yet author Daniel James Brown knows how to weave
everyday details and historical timelines into a magic carpet ride of
hope, determination, team bonds and glorious triumph. The magical
alignment at that point in the 1930's of British boatmaker George
Pocock, the brilliant University of Washington coach Al Ulbrickson, and
an unlikely group of young men from economically-devastated America is
nothing short of historical lightning.
centers on Joe Rantz, a boy who had been abandoned by his family, but
survived through his wits and ability to endure a daily amount of hard
labor that would have crushed a lesser spirit. Thrown together as
freshmen, the assortment of young men from dairy farms and lumber mills
soon coalesced into a very special crew. As they learned to submit
to the harsh master that is team rowing, they ascended to a level of
excellence that allowed them to represent the United States triumphantly
at the infamous 1936 Olympics, otherwise known as Adolph Hitler's plan
to showcase German superiority.
ability to tell the story by blending descriptive detail and the
euphoric memories of a dying Rantz make this an extraordinary tale that
will enchant and inspire readers for years to come.
Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Kathleen Barker attended
Catholic elementary and high schools before graduating with a B.A. in
English and Education from Towson University. She also attended Tulane
University in New Orleans, Louisiana. After 20 years as the
widely-traveled wife of a U.S. Navy pilot and mother of three, Ms.
Barker worked in New Orleans, LA for a Forbes 500 company until just
before Hurricane Katrina. During her tenure there she wrote multiple
feature articles for the company magazine, and received the Field
Reporter of the Year Award. She returned to her beloved home state of
Maryland in 2006, where she still resides. Her published works include
"Ednor Scardens", "The Body War", "The Hurting Year" and "On Gabriel's
Wings". Barker maintains a blog, "Dashboard Confessions of an
Undisciplined Mind" at http://kateinla51.blogspot.com/