I know next to nothing about crew, and after reading the book, I can more or less say the same. Daniel James Brown does his best to explain the intricacies involved in putting together a crew, the discipline involved in rowing well together, and the mechanics of building the best boat. He really does explain it well, but I have to admit that not much of it stuck. That’s perfectly all right, though, because you can enjoy the events without mastering the behind-the-scenes details.
My overwhelming emotion at the end of this book is respect for these boys and anyone who rows. It doesn’t seem like it would be that difficult to row a boat down a river or lake, but I now believe that it is one of the most difficult sports to do well. In order to go fast, every movement has to be timed precisely and lined up exactly with every rower in the boat. And then speed up or slow down at the same time, according to the directions of the coxswain. What a feat! I most certainly plan to watch these events during the next Summer Olympics, now that I understand somewhat just how difficult it is.
The ending of this book is astounding. It’s hard to believe that this is actually what happened because it reads like a movie. Mark Twain was right when he said that truth is stranger than fiction. Brown does an awesome job of describing the races in a way that keep you on the edge of your seat. This isn’t an easy task for a writer, but Brown succeeds every time.
This is a story that deserves to be told, and Brown does it well. He introduces us to a crew of boys that you wish you could be friends with. He paints a picture of the times – America during the Great Depression and Germany as Hitler rises to power. This book holds an uplifting story of the power of hard work and dedication to your teammates.