I absolutely loved this book! It was an easy read, and it covered so many different aspects of the 1930s that I imagine there is something in it for everyone. I really enjoy books that show me history from a specific viewpoint, as they help me etch out how things really were from certain perspectives and allow me to create a more complete timeline of events in my mind.
The Boys in the Boat tells many personal stories about hardships and difficulties that were eventually overcome. Some of the stories are truly heart-wrenching, and I found it quite unbelievable that some of the people involved even survived at all. These stories are, however, very inspiring due to the sheer grit displayed by each and every one of the characters as they overcome their circumstances. For some, living in appalling circumstances was simply a way of life, which is terrifying.
The book also describes many competitions that put you on edge even though, for the most part, you already know the outcome. The history of the sport of rowing and of this particular team was interesting on so many fronts that it’s actually hard to dissect it in a summary review. There were even a few words in the text dedicated to the horse world in the 1930s and the famous racehorse Seabiscuit. I thoroughly enjoyed that little snippet!
My favorite part of all was the perspective I gained of how the world was before WWII started. Everyone was very aware of what was happening abroad, but yet there was never any true understanding of what was about to come. It really made me wonder what it must have felt like to be in Berlin for the Olympic Games, and it gave me such a disturbing feeling deep down as I thought about what would happen shortly thereafter.
The historical timeline given by the book through the lens of the struggle of individuals and families is unbelievably chilling. Through all the hardships of economy and nature, I can’t even begin to imagine how hard life must have been. What never ceased to impress me was how people kept on making things work as best they could. This was especially of Joe Rantz’s life and family, the specifics of which the book depicts skillfully. Rantz was truly an amazing man that seemingly had everything against him in life, but he kept the best frame of mind that a fella could in order to survive and ultimately succeed brilliantly!
The one person featured in the book who I most wish that I could meet is George Pocock! He is the one person to whom I am most been drawn on a personal level. He was a true master at his craft and life. Every single quote he said was beautiful and true because his sentiments were universal and not constrained to the art of his craft. I could have changed a few words here and there to make each one fit with the art of horsemanship without any problem. The way Pocock handled himself and lived his life gave me goosebumps.
I highly recommend The Boys in the Boat because I imagine that everyone can find in it something good to take away. This is a truly inspiring and educational book that I can’t say enough about. In the weeks to follow, I will be discussing this book chapter by chapter in order to highlight some of its most interesting aspects. I am also excited to say that I will not be alone as I make my analysis. I hope you all read and join in on the conversation!