It was beautifully written and made me think of so many things.
We had a really good book club discussion about it and here were some of the things we talked about:
GRIT. Man alive those boys sure had it. Was it because of the time they were born? (the depression) Was it because of the tough things they had to go through? Was it learned or was it part of who they were in the first place?
I loved all the history woven in. So interesting to think of pre-war-time Germany and Hitler and his crew, all the sly maneuvers they went through to pull the wool over the world’s eyes as they greeted them there in Germany for the Olympics. Loved this quote near the end:
“Standing there, watching them, it occurred to me that when Hitler watched Joe and the boys fight their way back from the rear of the field to sweep ahead of Italy and Germany seventy-five years ago, he saw, but did not recognize, heralds of his doom. He could not have known that one day hundreds of thousands of boys just like them, boys who shared their essential natures—decent and unassuming, not privileged or favored by anything in particular, just loyal, committed, and perseverant—would return to Germany dressed in olive drab, hunting him down.”
I also loved that it mentioned that Louis Zamperini was on the ship with them sailing to Germany. (I loved reading Unbroken as well.)
So interesting to hear specific stories from the depression…the ones on the sidelines of the “real” story that was being told as well as hearing how Joe Rantz dealt with it all as he had to basically raise himself.
George Yeoman Pocock was my favorite. Such a wise soul. I loved his wisdom and his ability to just observe and learn and teach (especially in the instance with Joe Rantz helping him become part of the team). I loved his quotes at the beginning of each chapter. One of my favorites:
“It is hard to make that 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 supports 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. —George Yeoman Pocock”
I loved thinking about the humility each of those boys had to have in order to be part of the strength to row the boat. No one could be the “star,” they had to work together. Completely together.
And when they did, I loved that they were able to achieve “swing” which is perfect synchronicity and harmony in rowing which took those boys to the win…and which was such a beautiful analogy to life and in order to get the “swing” we want, we need to seek to harmonize and have humility and that same brotherhood those boys in the boat did. My brother-in-law related the beauty of the idea of “swing” within a family at our reunion back HERE, and I’ve thought a lot about it ever since (thanks Bob 🙂
I loved learning all about the boat. And that sport itself. And learning so much about the will and force it takes to be good at it.
And back to the GRIT thought at the beginning, how can we prepare our own kids to have it? How can we prepare them to have that kind of resiliency in a world where they’re going to need it?
Lots to ponder. I love a good book like that. Thank you Daniel James Brown!
On to Letters to a Young Muslim...