Monica Reads: ‘The Boys in the Boat’ Has Staying Power

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The Boys in the Boat
by Daniel James Brown

MONICA READS Review by Monica Drahonovsky

The Olympics have come and gone and who really watched any of the television coverage of rowing in an eight-man scull? I thought so. Well you are in for a delightful read if you get this book and delve into the world of the young men at the University of Washington who attended the 1936 Olympics.

Monica Drahonovsky

Monica Drahonovsky

Gordon Adam, Chuck Day, Don Hume, George “Shorty” Hunt, Jim “Stub” McMillin, Bob Moch, Roger Morris, Joe Rantz, and John White, Jr. The author happened on this story by wanting to showcase Joe Rantz and his struggles during the depression, the death of his mother, and his father’s new wife Thula abandoning him in a very small town in the Northwest. His struggle to survive on his own as a young teenager and his actions that led him to the University of Washington is riveting. The Great Depression was just that, huge and completely depressing.

After you meet Joe, the author is admonished by Joe that he can only write about him as a member of the “boat”. The story of the “boat” was more important than Joe or any of the other men in the boat. They formed a family and for these boys they lived daily in the scull house at the University of Washington. The coaches and the man that taught them that the boat was a living piece of wood were their unofficial parents. There were struggles. There was knowledge learned and emotions shared.

George Yeoman Pocock stated, “It is hard to make the boat go as fast as you want to. The enemy, of course, is resistance of the water, as you have to displace the amount of water equal to the weight of men and equipment, but that very water is what support you and that very enemy is your friend. So is life: the very problems you must overcome also support you and make you stronger in overcoming them.”

This coming-of-age story is compelling, interesting, informative, emotional and you will be so glad you decided to read it. The “greatest generation” was not gifted with an easy life and you will come to understand how great they really were.

Get the book, read the book. It will stick with you like a good breakfast of oatmeal with honey and raisins.

Monica Reads is’s latest column. It is written by Monica Drahonovsky who is known for her love of history and her lifelong love for reading. She has a bachelor’s degree in History, with a minor in English, along with teaching credentials. “My years of reading for leisure and pleasure have given me the insight to read a book and analyze the author’s baggage, cargo and ability to write the language of his/her mind and utilize the gift of prose to educate and entertain the reader.  Go get a book, read it and enjoy the adventure.” Contact Monica at


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