"Chariots of Fire, with Oars" —David Laskin, author of The Children's Blizzard
The story of the University of Washington's 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans. The sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the boys defeated eliterivals first from eastern and British universities and finally the German crew rowing for Adolf Hitler in the Olympic games in Berlin, 1936.
Here's a video clip from way back:
The emotional heart of the story lies with one rower, Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not for glory, but to regain his shattered self-regard and to find a place he can call home. The crew is assembled by an enigmatic coach and mentored by avisionary, eccentric British boat builder, but it is their trust in each other that makes them a victorious team. They remind the country of what can be done when everyone quite literally pulls together-a perfect melding of commitment, determination, and optimism.
And yes, they were rowing wood... George Pocock 60' shells. Word is, movie rights have been sold.
by Daniel James Brown
404 pp., Softcover
The story deserves a more visible place in history, and Brown has brought it to light in a way that will appeal to readers regardless of their knowledge of or interest in rowing or wooden boats. It's a story about universal human values: striving for excellence and the triumph of teamwork.
--Christopher Cunningham, reviewed in WoodenBoat #232