July 2, 2013

Review: The Boys in the Boat

I remember going to the service station that my father owned every day after school.  My mother, the unofficial, unpaid book keeper for the family business, would have to pick up receipts and handle some business.  My father's gas station was like the old barber shops where colorful locals would hang out and talk.  There was this one guy who's name was Shorty Hunt.  Later I learned Shorty was a nickname, but I'd never heard anyone call him anything different.  At 6' 1", he seemed like a giant to me.  One day, he called me over to him and asked if I wanted to see his gold medal.  I remember scoffing (earning me a look from my father) and saying to him "You don't have an Olympic gold medal." The others assured me he did, and he promised to bring it to show me the next time he was in. It was about a week later that he was sitting back in a chair in the station office.  He was leaned back, so he sat up and held out a box to me.  It contained the shiniest object I'd ever seen.  An Olympic Gold Medal.

And for that reason, I am currently reading, much to the shock and surprise of everyone who knows me, an adult non-fiction history book.  The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown tells the story of the 1938 Washington Husky crew team that won the gold and, much like Jesse Owens, shamed Hitler. 

If I had known there was historical non-fiction written like this, I might have had a greater interest in the subject in school. It's vivid, living writing that I'm actually finding better than some fiction titles I've read recently.  I highly recommend this book to fans of sports, especially rowing, as well as WWII history buffs, and really anyone looking for an inspiring true tale.

Until next time, bon voyage and happy reading!