Nov 25, 2013

"The Boys in the Boat"

I just finished reading this wonderful book, The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Olympics.  I was impressed by the writing from the very start and even though competitive rowing is not something that interests me, the author wrote so beautifully that I was kept enthralled. 

It was interesting to read his descriptions of life in the 1930's such as life on a college campus.  Just the description of how teenagers dressed back then drives home how distant we are from those more moral times.  The book focuses on one of the boys in particular.  He went through a very difficult childhood and he handled it with such resiliency, working extremely hard to support himself and get himself through college. 

The story of the college rowing team is interspersed with the rise of Hitler's Germany.  The Berlin Olympics were designed to fool the world into thinking Germany was civilized at the very time that they were actively preparing for war and persecuting and murdering Jews. 

It was fascinating to read how this kind of rowing requires not only tremendous strength but great intelligence too.  They all had to keep up their grades and the crew athletes were known to have the highest GPA in the university.  When they finished college they went to work in impressive jobs and all but one married and had families. 

There are parts that describe how the boats were made and what it takes to have a perfectly coordinated team of rowers, which can serve as life lessons and as wonderful mashalim (analogies).

I highly recommend it.

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