The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

Unabridged Audiobook

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Book Rating (576)

Narrator Rating (150)

Written By: Daniel James Brown

Narrated By: Edward Herrmann

Date: June 2013

Duration: 14 hours 25 minutes


The #1 New York Times–bestselling story about American Olympic triumph in Nazi Germany, the inspiration for the PBS documentary The Boys of '36, broadcast to coincide with the 2016 Summer Olympics and the 80th anniversary of the boys' gold medal race.

For readers of Unbroken, out of the depths of the Depression comes an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times—the improbable, intimate account of how nine working-class boys from the American West showed the world at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin what true grit really meant.

It was an unlikely quest from the start. With a team composed of the sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the University of Washington’s eight-oar crew team was never expected to defeat the elite teams of the East Coast and Great Britain, yet they did, going on to shock the world by defeating the German team rowing for Adolf Hitler. The emotional heart of the tale lies with Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not only to regain his shattered self-regard but also to find a real place for himself in the world. Drawing on the boys’ own journals and vivid memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, Brown has created an unforgettable portrait of an era, a celebration of a remarkable achievement, and a chronicle of one extraordinary young man’s personal quest.


  • Rita G.

    Absolutely loving this book. Not quite finished but certainly one of the best ever. One of my top 10 for last 5 years of reading, and or listening!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Marv S.

    Easily my favorite read this year and one of my favorite all time. Sometimes books are better as an audiobook, sometimes not. This definitely was far better in every way with one exception. Nearly every, city, town, mountain or native name used was mispronounced.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Leisen A.

    Inspiring story that brought tears to my eyes! Great for young adult readers to help the appreciate how difficult life can be and learn how to have the fortitude to overcome. Terrific narration!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Nathan T

    good book slow at times

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Filip F

    Excellent book. It hit the nail on the head describing the rowing world. Despite being a Cal alumni, I enjoyed the book a lot. There are lots of things in the book that reminded me of my rowing days.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Tatjana Lehmann

    Nice story. Many facts though at times. Great narrator.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Jane Trivett

    Magical story with incredible character development and vivid descriptions! I LOVED How the writer flipped back and forth between current events of the time and what was happening in the small neighborhoods of Washington. The reader's tones made it hard to turn off. It was my first time hearing the story of Joe and his team and I was so impressed by their story.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Beverly Widney

    Loved this book so much. I knew nothing about the sport of rowing. So amazing!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Daniel Gilmartin

    Truly inspirational work. Absolutely worth your every second.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Martin T.

    This was a great book! Those were the toughest of times and they were about to get a lot tougher! I listened to Unbroken, which Edward Herrmann also narrated, and he is great as the narrator in this book.

  • Paonrun

    Great inspirational story

  • Stephen K.

    Terrific story, from both historical and humanitarian perspectives. The narration is compelling. I also had the book, which includes interesting photographs, but, in this case, listening was more dramatic than reading.

  • Michael H.

    Fantastic read for those who appreciate sport and the human spirit.

  • Anonymous

    Great story. Well told.

  • Melanie C.

    wonderful historical story of how one can come from such a hard childhood and truly accomplish so much

  • Anonymous

    Captivating and inspirational.

  • William E.

    Perseverance at the highest level What goals are you willing to suffer for?

  • Tamara F.

    One of the most wonderfully written books about an amazing group of men. I am still mourning having finished reading it.

  • Anonymous

    The narration was excellent. His voice was clear, soothing, and warm. The story was enthralling and exciting however there were times I got lost in the history when I thought I was reading about a group of boys rowing to the olympics.

  • Hannah M.

    An incredible story that takes you back in time. I would listen to it all over again. Really impressed with the narrator as well, both with his ability to make read at the perfect pace and also for his pronunciation of Washington towns :)

  • Jessica Fox

    Great book. Very inspirational. Well read. My only complaint is some of the local town names were mispronounced. Being from the Pacific Northwest I know how weird some of the names are, so he gets a pass.

  • Janet G.

    I loved how the author wove together the narratives of the Great Depression, the rise of Nazi Power and the effect they both had on the lives of ordinary people trying to achieve extrardinary things. The making of the 1936 Olympic Rowing team was the perfect backdrop for that story.

  • Lee W

    The book is just incredible and no one comes close as a reader to Edward Herrmann(rip). An absolute must !!

  • Jacqueline C

    Great book! Must read!


    I liked the book, the purpose and dedication of the 9 rowers and their coaches was amazing. It was a different time and I don’t think it would happen today. However, it was a good read

  • Benjamin A

    Great book and great narration! This is a must read.

  • Martin T

    MFT- loved this story about a great sport, the hardest of times, and a team of boys who worked hard to win., and winning big became their standard. Joe is an inspiration to anyone who feels life is not fair: he learns how to overcome and persevere at a young age, which compels him to fit in and do his best. The parts about the sport, its history and Polcock are fascinating. Good read for all.

  • Miriam R

    Excellent story and narration. Once I became involved with the characters, it was totally engrossing.

  • Jeff H

    Excellent in every way. The book is well written with a ton of detail but never too much. Just when I thought it was going to bog down it didn't. Just great!

  • Ayako H

    I've been wanting to read this book for a long time ever since my daughter started rowing last year. Loved it! The story is so exciting and magical. It's every bit as good as my friends told me. This is my first Audiobook experience and I must say, I can get addicted to it.

  • susan hewitt

    Wonderfully written and the narration fern gave me goosebumps !

  • Miggie Greenberg

    I loved this book. I have no interest in crew or any sport but it was inspirational.

  • David Deutscher

    Fantastically done book and narration. I recommend this book to anyone.

  • Jenifer Gardner

    What a story! Wonderful this story has been made known. The author makes beautiful analogies between the the spruce used to craft the shells, the water, the ancient handtools and character. The reader is inspired to work hard and make a contribution. One of my all time favorites!

  • Rosa Amodeo

    Wonderful story about perseverance. The boys and their story was brought to life by the narration. Simply loved it.

  • Alex Binnie

    Really great American story through the lens of a unlikely hero. Would recommend to anyone!

  • Kristen Faux

    I loved, loved, loved this book! Everyone should read it. I learned so much, it was so interesting and intertwined history that left me wanting to study up on WW11 history. Again I just loved it and the narrator was so fun to listen to, open your ears and your heart and get swept away!

  • Kathleen Hagen

    the best story I ever heard. I would have enjoyed reading it as well. The author's skill of picking just the right word is delightful. The reader on the audio was perfect.

  • Lari Bright

    Great character development. Wonderful story. Daniel James Brown wrote history without dwelling on the horrible times in Germany in the 1930's. This story illustrates how exacting the oarsmen in the boat were and the strength a team has when they work as one unit. The overall message is to trust. That is difficult for most but trust was reached by the "Boys in the Boat."

  • Geoff Thomas

    Excellent story and wonderful narration! The author captured the essence of the depression, Nazi propaganda regime, the heart and determination of the rowers and the triumphs both personally and as a team.

  • Liza

    This book is not like "Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption". It is much slower, and less thrilling. It is also a lot less about WWII, even though it has its moments, that are very interesting. I'll start by thanking my friends, that convinced me to continue, even though after 70%+ of the book I still wanted to stop. It was way too slow, way too much concentrating on Joe, a bit too much on rowing, and far from what I expected. The most interesting parts of the book are about coaching, but not about coaching for rowing, more about coaching for life. It's about team building, about team spirit, about being a part of something bigger. You can't care only for yourself, in a real team you have to care for the others.

  • LaMarr Anderson

    A most enjoyable and well written history book....I loved it! I had no idea of this unique bit of history nor of the sport of rowing. Would be a great movie. I am sure the book itself is very intriguing and suspenseful in itself, but the narration added so much to my enjoyment and daily anticipation to 'read'. I want my grandson to read...

  • Maurice Bonamigo

    Great Book !!! Loved the story and Great for all Ages !! This would be a great movie.

  • Lisa Vivori

    I'm a middle aged woman not particularly into sports. Was blown away by how much I loved this book. On so many levels, this book is captivating, educational and inspiring. Must read.

  • Anna Berry-Leon

    This is a wonderful story of true northwest grit and determination.

  • tanya lessenberry

    This is one of the most inspirational books I have ever read.I knew nothing about rowing before listening to the book and now I can't wait to watch the rowing event at the next Olympics. If you love sports you will love this book. This is a story that will break your heart, but then make you realize that you can do anything if you don't give up. A person of any age will enjoy the book. I've told my teenagers to read it for school next time they have a book report.

  • sandra burgess

    A totally amazing story that was read with complete understanding and enjoyment.. Loved it.

  • William Gerber

    The book recounts the selection and training of the University of Washington eight man varsity crew and the competitions that led up to their winning the gold medal at the 1936 Olympics. The book alternates between the main narrative, the story of Joe Rantz, a member of the crew, against the backdrop of the Great Depression and the rise of Naziism in Germany. It is at once a great yarn, a story of a young man for whom rowing fills a void left by a very difficult childhood, and a history lesson. Edward Herrmann narrates flawlessly at a pace that keeps you on the edge of your seat.,

  • Geoffrey Erwin

    Really enjoying the story. I love to hear about the depression and how people survived during really tough times and then how that generation took what life gave them and made the most out of it.

  • Joe Gates

    Amazing book about a story I had never heard before. He made me feel for the lead character so much that I was brought to tears a few times. Some times for joy and sometimes for sorry. Great read

  • Tiffany Crenshaw

    Love this book -- it's an inspiration both personally and professionally. I just may weave some of the messages into staff training with my team. Readers will need to love history as the author beautifully set the story on the world stage providing great historical accounts on the lead up to WWII.

  • cyndi shurtleff

    What an amazing story! Well written/spoken. Sad to finish the story! Hard to top this story.

  • Lisa Stockman

    Exceptional telling of a most stirring, and inspiring story

  • Allison Sayles

    Amazing book! I was cheering and crying at the end! Narration was some of the best I have ever listened to.

  • Calvin Jones

    Great book! Loved the story and the way presented. Great narration as well.

  • Julia Baldridge

    This should have won the Pulitzer! It's the first book I've listened to where I felt like I was watching a movie at the same time. You can see everything clearly in your mind by the way he writes. It was the best!

  • Susan Bennett

    Wonderfully written. I felt like I was in the boat with those boys!! I laugher I cried and most of all I was on the edge of my seat every minute. Thank you for writing this book and sharing their lives with us.

  • Doug Smith

    I loved it. Its a great story and the author has a wonderful way with words. The narrator brings it alive.

  • Lynn Burton

    I loved this book. The story reminds of us how difficult times create the desire to work hard, to set goals, and accomplish great things in spite of great hardships. I found the adapted for young readers hard copy at the store and purchased it to give to my 8 year old grandson who is an avid reader. I know he will love it, too. Thank you, Daniel James Brown. Job well done!

  • Elizabeth Pappy

    I cried when they won. I found myself cheering them on in the car as the race scenes unfolded. I was riveted. Terrific book, well written and beautifully narrated. Edward Herrmann is the best!

  • Kenneth Cuccia

    What a story! At times I was in tears as Brown detailed the epic quest Joe and the boys endured as humans. At times I was emblazoned with pride at the legendary accomplishments achieved by the Washington Crew. Expertly written by Brown and passionately recounted by Hermann.. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  • Bryan Lewis

    Crisply read. Drawing story hard to put down, very heart warming.

  • Tracey Weaver

    A story of inspiration wonderfully narrated and not to be missed!

  • Gail Getty

    The incomparable Edward Herman brings this masterfully told tale to a new generation to enlighten and inspire. Bravo!!!

  • jaime olsen

    Wonderfully told piece of history. Worth the listen.

  • Ford McGowen

    It was one of the best books I ever read. It was also truly inspiring

  • Mitchell Pierson

    Spectacular! Gripping and motivational. A real page turner...I mean a real page listener!

  • Jay Deyo

    I thought the book was awesome. Well told and great story, easy to connect with being from Washington.

  • John Fice

    This is a wonderful story that reads like a fast paced historical fiction - a story of adventure, willpower and teamwork juxtaposed against one of the darkest episodes in modern times.

  • Heather White

    Beautifully written and gripping story! I couldn't get away from it....I cannot believe we never knew the story of these men before -what amazing lives they had. I'm deeply moved. Awesome.

  • Kathryn Tillotson

    Great story and excellently told. To learn about oaring, building boats, days before WW II was fascinating. The entire book took two days.

  • steve fairbourne

    Loved the fact that the writer brought to light a story that was largely unknown, and incited in me an interest in an obscure sport. Did not think the story would be particularly inspiring or interesting, but the story roped me in right away. Nicely done.

  • Dan Crear

    This book and story is amazing! What a story and so well told on this book, couldn't wait to get back to the book.

Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

by Daniel James Brown

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Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Daniel James Brown
Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Daniel James Brown
This title is due for release on June 4, 2013.

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Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Daniel James Brown
This title is due for release on June 4, 2013
We'll send you an email as soon as it is available!

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Log in to add this title in your wishlist
Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Daniel James Brown
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Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Daniel James Brown

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