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2018-19 Common Literature Experience

The Boys in the Boat Cover

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

The Boys in the Boat celebrates the 1936 U.S. men’s Olympic eight-oar rowing team—nine working class boys who stormed the rowing world, transformed the sport, and galvanized the attention of millions of Americans.

The sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers from the American West, the boys took on and defeated successive echelons of privilege and power. They vanquished the sons of bankers and senators rowing for elite eastern universities. They defeated the sons of British aristocrats rowing for Oxford and Cambridge. And finally, in an extraordinary race in Berlin they stunned the Aryan sons of the Nazi state as they rowed for gold in front of Adolf Hitler.

Against the grim backdrop of the Great Depression, they reaffirmed the American notion that merit, in the end, outweighs birthright. They reminded the country of what can be done when everyone quite literally pulls together. And they provided hope that in the titanic struggle that lay just ahead, the ruthless might of the Nazis would not prevail over American grit, determination, and optimism.

Convocation for Fall Students

Thursday, August 23, 2018 - 9:00 a.m.
Dee Glen Smith Spectrum - Utah State University Logan Campus
Broadcast simultaneously at
Speaker: Author Daniel James Brown
Free and open to the public.

Literature Assignment for Fall and Spring

If you are a student in the 2018-19 University Connections class, the literature assignment can be found at /connections/literatureexperience/assignment/.

Be sure to check out our previous literature selections.


Additional Information

Author's Website 2018 Podcast with Dr. Curt Canning of the 1968 Olympic Rowing Team American Experience: The Boys of '36 Lucy Pocock and Women's Rowing Background Information about The Boys in the Boat The Rest of the Story with Jim Pocock Footage of Rowing Practice in 1936 Speech by Daniel James Brown The Boys of '36, Chapter 1