Boys in the Boat: Brief Book Review

“ He had no choice but to throw himself into each stroke as if he were throwing himself off a cliff into a void, with unquestioning faith that the others would be there to save him from catching the whole weight of the shell on his blade.”

The Boys in the Boat does to rowing what the film Whiplash did to drumming. It’s easy to observe the melodic pendulum of professional rowing and put it all down to innate, effortless skill. Boys in the Boat shatters that illusion, telling the story of 9 unremarkable working-class boys who fight stroke by stroke to compete on the Olympic stage, in an America knocked to its knees by the Great Depression.

Yet what makes Boys in the Boat more than just an underdog story is the ominous cloud that hangs over every word. Cut throughout the narrative are sharp tonal shifts, giving readers insight into troubling developments brewing in 1930s Nazi Germany.

As the Washington boys row their hearts out for their country, a spectre sits patiently on the sidelines, a harbinger of death and destruction we know all too much about.