The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown has been selected by public vote as this year's book of choice for Saratoga Reads, a community-wide reading program.
The Boys in the Boat reached the number 1 slot on the New York Times best-seller list for nonfiction paperbacks in 2014. The book's subtitle, "Nine Americans and their epic quest for gold at the 1936 Olympics," gives an instant overview, but the real story lies in the personal struggles and travails behind the scenes.
Set during the Great Depression, the book tells the improbable story of how nine working-class young men from the American West competed for the Gold Medal in rowing at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. With rowers who were the sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the University of Washington's eight-oar crew was never expected to defeat the elite teams of the East Coat and Great Britain, yet they did, going on to shock the world by challenging the German boat rowing for Adolf Hitler.
At the core of the story is Joe Rantz, a teenager abandoned by his family, who manages to defy the odds. Through sheer perseverance, he finishes high school, attends the University of Washington in Seattle, and makes it through the fierce competition to the university's top rowing team.
"The individual stories of these young men are almost as compelling as the rise of the team itself. Brown excels at weaving the stories with the larger narrative, all culminating in the 1936 Olympic Games," said the Seattle Times. "The narrative rises inexorably, with the final 50 pages blurring by with white-knuckled suspense as these all-American underdogs pull off the unimaginable."