• Concrete Examples
  • Eloquent
  • Inspiring


At the historic Olympic Games in Berlin in 1936, the world saw Nazi power at its height. The members of the US rowing team were unassuming boys from the University of Washington, underdogs who became American varsity rowing champions. Best-selling author Daniel James Brown crafts a detailed, passionate account of the team’s challenges and triumphs seen through the eyes of Joe Rantz, one of “the boys in the boat.” Brown’s rich prose illuminates the sport’s beauty and the resilient hearts of the young teammates who gave it their all.

Rowing is a beautiful sport that demands intense teamwork and trust.

Rowing demands full-body engagement. It consumes oxygen and burns calories at a rate beyond any other sport. Daniel James Brown details how a rowing race takes the same physiological toll as playing two consecutive basketball games in about six minutes. The pain is excruciating. “It’s not a question of whether you will hurt, or of how much you will hurt,” the author writes, “it’s a question of what you will do, and how well you will do it, while pain has her wanton way with you.”

Timing, Brown explains, is crucial. Rowers must calibrate their strokes with their teammates into one fluid motion – the “swing.” When a rower falls out of sync, that is called “catching a crab.” The rower’s oar becomes stuck in the water, frozen between other rowers’ strokes. Each rower on the team must become part of a machine, supported by the water while in contention with it.

About the Author

Daniel James Brown also wrote The Indifferent Stars Above and Under a Flaming Sky, both finalists for the Washington State Book Award.

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