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The Boys in the Boat

Inspiration:    The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936

Berlin Olympics

Author:           Dan Brown

Source:          Book

Type:              Book

Time:              7-10 Hours

Loved By:      Lucian Leone, Director of Enrollment

Our Recommendation:

Set during the Depression in the Pacific Northwest, “The Boys in the Boat” is the story of nine young, working-class men, their coach and their boat builder, overcoming the odds, and learning the importance of friendship and trust to create a team.    The story focuses on one of the crew members, Joe Rantz.  Left to raise himself from the age of twelve, Joe battles each day to survive.    What I find inspiring in Joe’s story is, despite the challenges he faces, he never seems to give in to despair or anger.  Ultimately, the team learns the importance of “swing”:

“There is a thing that happens in rowing that is hard to achieve and hard to define. Many crews, even winning crews, never really find it. Others find it but can’t sustain it. It’s called “swing”. It only happens when eight oarsmen are rowing in such perfect unison that no single action by any one is out of synch with those of all the others. It’s not just that the oars enter and leave the water at precisely the same instant. Sixteen arms must begin to pull, sixteen knees must begin to fold and unfold, eight bodies must begin to slide forward and backward, eight backs must bend and straighten all at once. Each minute action – each subtle turning of wrists – must be mirrored exactly by each oarsman, from one end of the boat to the other. Only then will the boat continue to run, unchecked, fluidly and gracefully, between pulls of the oars. Only then will it feel that the boat is a part of each of them, moving as if on its own. Only then does pain entirely give way to exultation. Rowing then becomes a kind of perfect language. Poetry, that’s what a good swing feels like.”  (p. 161)

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