by techeditor (Romeo, Michigan): Although its subtitle implies that THE BOYS IN THE BOAT is about the American eight-oar rowing crew in the 1936 Olympics, the book is more than that. It’s mostly about what led to the formation of the crew. Also, the story is made personal by its concentration on one of the boys, Joe Rantz.
If THE BOYS IN THE BOAT was fiction, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it. That’s because the whole thing is so unlikely: Joe overcame such odds in his personal life. None of the boys came from money when they suddenly emerged from Seattle, a city few were familiar with then, to beat the prestigious Eastern schools (e.g., Yale and Harvard). The boat and the boys dealt with several disadvantages in Germany, both before and during their races, only to beat their competition. None of this story would be believable if I didn’t know it was true.
Throughout this book, juxtaposed against Joe’s and the boys’ story, is Hitler’s creation of the fictional Germany that he wanted to present to the world during the Olympics there. As he hides the real Germany, the US ignores him, and the boys and other athletes just work on getting there.
When the story was over, I didn’t want it to be over. So I read the end notes. You’ll probably do that, too.