Publisher's Note:  

For readers of Laura Hillenbrand's Seabiscuit and Unbroken, the dramatic story of the American rowing team that stunned the world at Hitler's 1936 Berlin Olympics

Daniel James Brown’s robust book tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans. The sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the boys defeated elite rivals first from eastern and British universities and finally the German crew rowing for Adolf Hitler in the Olympic games in Berlin, 1936.

The emotional heart of the story lies with one rower, Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not for glory, but to regain his shattered self-regard and to find a place he can call home. The crew is assembled  by an enigmatic coach and mentored by a visionary, eccentric British boat builder, but it is their trust in each other that makes them a victorious team. They remind the country of what can be done when everyone quite literally pulls together—a perfect melding of commitment, determination, and optimism.

Drawing on the boys’ own diaries and journals, their photos and memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, The Boys in the Boat is an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times—the improbable, intimate story of nine working-class boys from the American west who, in the depths of the Great Depression, showed the world what true grit really meant. It will appeal to readers of Erik Larson, Timothy Egan, James Bradley, and David Halberstam's The Amateurs.

The Boys in the Boat

by Daniel James Brown

Review Date:

Recommended Age:

Overall Rating:

Profanity / Language Rating:

Violence / Gore Rating:

Sex / Nudity Rating:

Overall Review:  

The Boys in the Boat tells the incredible story of nine boys from the University of Washington who rowed for gold in the 1936 Olympics. It's an inspiring story that's almost too good to be true and author Daniel James Brown does an amazing job of telling it. Despite a complicated plot (topics include the University of Washington's rowing team, the mechanics and psychology of the sport, and Nazi Germany's Olympic prep to name a few), Brown's tale remains interesting and compelling from start to finish. While the novel discusses all nine teammates and their coaches, the story centers on likeable and hard-working rower Joe Rantz. Rantz makes for a fascinating main character and provides a lot of emotional charge in this well-researched story. If you enjoyed great nonfiction like Seabiscuit and Unbroken, this is the perfect book for you!

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  14 mild obscenities; 1 religious profanity; 1 derogatory name; 1 anatomical term.


Violence/Gore:  Reports of violence involving brawls, war and the Holocaust; a few violence scenes include a mob, fistfight and being hit on the head with a board; fire and floods destroy property with no casualties; Jews are tortured and a student accidently dies by fire in non-detailed scenes of violent death. 


Sex/Nudity:  A few sexual references and reported incidents of sexual activity.

Mature Subject Matter:  

Death of a family member, religious persecution, abandonment, homelessness, poverty, stealing, the Holocaust.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

Smoking and drinking frequently occur.

Reviewed By Rachel
No image available