The Boys in the Boat

The Boys in the Boat

Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

Book - 2013
Average Rating:
Rate this:
This 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. It traces the story of the team that defeated elite rivals at Hitler's 1936 Berlin Olympics, sharing the experiences of their enigmatic coach, a visionary boat builder, and a homeless teen rower.
Publisher: New York :, Viking,, [2013]
ISBN: 9780670025817
Characteristics: 404 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm


From Library Staff

April 2015

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Apr 09, 2018

Rivetingly written - although one knows about the Olympic success, it is still a page turner

Jan 11, 2018

Amazing book! The writing is so good that I was attracted to keep reading to find out what happened next. Highly recommend!

Oct 08, 2017

Fantastic Book! I was so excited-it kept my focus every bit of the way through.

Librarian_Deb Sep 29, 2017

This profile of the nine young men who represented the US in rowing at the 1936 Olympics is so much more than just a sports story. As it digs into the lives of these young men, especially Joe Rantz, the reader gets a vivid picture of life in the Seattle area during the 1930's. Events like the building of the Grand Coulee dam - where Joe works during the summer to earn tuition for college -- become memorable parts of the story, which is of course mostly about rowing. Yet even a non-rowing fan like me got sucked into that aspect of the book as well - as the author gave excellent profiles of Al Ulbrickson, their taciturn coach and George Pocock, the master boat maker. And knowing much about Joe Rantz's backstory which included being practically abandoned by his family when he was young made me want to root for his success. Becoming emotionally involved with the characters helped, but the author also skillfully described the actual races in such a way that the tension was palpable. I was on the edge of my seat - so to speak - wondering if the boys were going to pull of a win and how they were going to do it. When they get to take the trip of a lifetime to the Berlin Olympics more fascinating history is included - such as how the film producer Leni Riefenstahl was heavily involved in filming Hitler's ultimate propaganda piece for the world. I learned so much about history from this book and it made me think about the lessons we can learn from the past. We talked about that a lot when our book group discussed this title and it was one of our most memorable discussions. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys history, sports and stories about over coming obstacles.

MVBOOKCLUB Jul 29, 2017

Markham Village April Book Club Selection. So many great areas of history to discuss, wonderful characters, beautifully written.

Jun 25, 2017

The Boys in the boat is the one of most thrilling books I've ever read. This book shows the life of a sports players are and also shows the 1932 ~ 1936 times. This book is my Top red 40 books choice.

JCLCassandraG Jun 15, 2017

A uniquely compelling story, even if it's the farthest thing away from your usual interests. If you're having trouble getting into this one, I recommend diving a few chapters in and then going back to get your bearings after you're sucked in. Certain threads held my attention more than others and I was much more willing to hear the specific details about the boats and crews once I knew who would be in them!

May 13, 2017

An exceptional book. Well written. It captured my attention from the first page. I could not put it down. I felt like I knew these men, and I do not row. Beautiful detailed view of Seattle, the country and the world during this era. I came away with a new understanding.

Jan 02, 2017

THE BOYS IN THE BOAT is the inspiring true account of the 1936 US Olympic rowing team from the University of Washington who overcame adversity and achieved the improbable through perseverance, sacrifice, and teamwork. As the story progresses, while the group as a whole finds its “swing”, so do it’s individual members find themselves, in particular Joe Rantz, the central character of the story. Having known nothing about crew (competitive rowing) before reading this, I gained insight and appreciation for what it takes to excel in this sport. Set during the dark days of America’s Great Depression and Germany’s rise of Nazi power, THE BOYS IN THE BOAT is the perfect blend of human interest, history, and sport. What a terrific book! I hope one day it’ll be translated to the big screen.

AL_MARCIA Dec 28, 2016

This is a fantastic story about several young men from the University of Washington striving to be the best they can be. They eventually reach the Olympics in Germany under the watch eye of Adolf Hilter. It's a great demonstration of drive and perseverance.

View All Comments


Add a Quote

Jan 02, 2017

“It doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down,” he told his daughter, Marilynn. “What matters is how many times you get up.” - page 233

Jan 02, 2017

"To defeat an adversary who was your equal, maybe even your superior, it wasn't necessarily enough just to give your all from start to finish. You had to master your opponent mentally. When the critical moment in a close race was upon you, you had to know something he did not - that down in your core you still had something in reserve, something you had not yet shown, something that once revealed would make him doubt himself, make him falter just when it counted the most. Like so much in life, crew was partly about confidence, partly about knowing your heart." - page 106

WVMLlibrarianTara Nov 26, 2014

“What mattered more than how hard a man rowed was how well everything he did in the boat harmonized with what the other fellows were doing. And a man couldn’t harmonize with his crewmates unless he opened his heart to them. He had to care about his crew.”


Add a Summary

Oct 18, 2014

A timeless story of perseverance, of survival in a world full of obstacles. Joe Rantz faced abandonment by his family, putting himself through college, the dust bowl and great depression, and ultimately Hitler's influence in athletic competition. But his biggest obstacle at times was himself. Finally becoming a reliable piece of a cohesive whole, he and his crewmates lifted the Husky Clipper off the surface of the water, to the rafters of Washington's shellhouse, and into history.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at SBL

To Top