Suggested Reading

There are many great books and stories about rowing. Some discuss the beauty, others the obstacles, and some are just informative. As a team that is passionate about the sport,  we will give a new book a season that relates to the season at hand. Read and enjoy and learn more about the rowing world around you.

"The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics" written by Daniel James Brown

Daniel James Brown’s robust book tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans. The sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the boys defeated elite rivals first from eastern and British universities and finally the German crew rowing for Adolf Hitler in the Olympic games in Berlin, 1936.

The emotional heart of the story lies with one rower, Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not for glory, but to regain his shattered self-regard and to find a place he can call home. The crew is assembled  by an enigmatic coach and mentored by a visionary, eccentric British boat builder, but it is their trust in each other that makes them a victorious team. They remind the country of what can be done when everyone quite literally pulls together—a perfect melding of commitment, determination, and optimism.

Drawing on the boys’ own diaries and journals, their photos and memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, The Boys in the Boat is an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times—the improbable, intimate story of nine working-class boys from the American west who, in the depths of the Great Depression, showed the world what true grit really meant.

"A Lifetime in a Race" written by Matthew Pinsent

With his last-gasp victory as part of the Great British coxless four team at the Athens Olympics, Matthew Pinsent clinched an historic fourth Olympic Gold to add to the three already won with his legendary rowing partner Steve Redgrave. In an uniquely exciting and evocative autobiography, Pinsent interweaves the build-up to Athens 2004 with the extraordinary story of his career and unforgettable partnership with Redgrave. Plucked from obscurity at the age of 20, told to partner his hero, and trained to within an inch of his life, Pinsent's story is uniquely revealing about what it takes to be a champion and the mixed blessings of success. Culminating with a nail-biting final chapter detailing the team's extraordinary victory in Athens in blow-by-blow detail, A Lifetime in a Race is a sports book in a different mould.

"Assault on Lake Casitas" written by Brad Alan Lewis

Brad Alan Lewis’ determination to win an Olympic medal had taken over his life by 1984. He would be too old for the 1988 Games and his spot on the 1980 team had been lost to world politics. Only 1984 remained. But Lewis had a problem. Emotionally crushed after losing a guaranteed spot on the team by nine-tenths of a second in the single scull trials, Lewis went to the dreaded Olympic selection camp, where he hoped to earn a place in a national team boat. Again he failed. Lewis refused to be denied. He teamed up with Paul Enquist, who had been cut from the camp, and began training to challenge the national boat. It would be their last chance to compete in the Los Angeles Olympic Games. Using innovative psychological and physical training techniques developed by Lewis, they defeated the national entry at the double scull trials, three weeks after being considered failures by the system. In an event dominated by the Europeans, they won the first United States gold medal in rowing since 1964 and the first in the double scull since 1932. Lewis’ story is more than a book about a man winning a gold medal in a sport that offers little more than personal rewards. It is about challenging convention, overcoming defeat and working outside of an established system. Assault on Lake Casitas is a compelling tale of competition at the highest possible level and the emotions that fuel obsession.

"The Amateurs" written by David Halberstam

In The Amateurs, David Halberstam once again displays the unique brand of reportage, both penetrating and supple, that distinguished his bestselling The Best and the Brightest and October 1964. This time he has taken for his subject the dramatic and special world of amateur rowing. While other athletes are earning fortunes in salaries and-or endorsements, the oarsmen gain fame only with each other and strive without any hope of financial reward.

What drives these men to endure a physical pain known to no other sport? Who are they? Where do they come from? How do they regard themselves and their competitors? What have they sacrificed, and what inner demons have they appeased? In answering these questions, David Halberstam takes as his focus the 1984 single sculls trials in Princeton. The man who wins will gain the right to represent the United States in the 84 Olympiad; the losers will then have to struggle further to gain a place in the two- or four-man boats. And even if they succeed, they will have to live with the bitter knowledge that they were not the best, only close to it.