This was the book club selection for May. We met last night. I’m
happy to tell you that it was a popular selection! It was published in
1913 and maybe you’ve already read it–if not, here’s why you should:
It’s the story of nine boys from the University of Washington who were on a
crew team and worked their way through many competitions and finally
were on the US Olympic team that went to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.
I found it very enjoyable reading for several reasons. I learned a lot about the
sport of rowing. I was interested to read about the various rowing races and
the Ivy League competitors. The rich schools from the East were favored in all
the races, but the “farm boys” from the University of Washington surprised the
I want to also mention the outstanding coaches of the teams and the particularly
important job of the coxswain on a crew team. He’s (she’s) light in weight, the only
team member facing forward, and the one who calls the shots for the team to follow–
slow down, speed up, make your move! There are eight rowers, and one coxswain.
The author used letters and journals from the actual team and their families to
create a well-rounded telling. He followed one boy, Joe Rantz, in particular, making
it easy to follow the escalating story. Many original photographs were sprinkled
throughout and they added to the interest.
The book included very good background information of the era — the 1930s and
the Depression, the dust storms and the gathering Nazi menace in Europe.
I think it will be considered one of the best books we’ve read this year and would make
a good choice for your own book club. There was lots of discussion and that’s a very
Four button review:
Next month: The Gravedigger’s Daughter by Joyce Carol Oates. Join us!