A New York Times Best Seller and Epic Story Of Determination, Adversity, and Friendship is the 2015 One Maryland One Book

February 18, 2015

The Maryland Humanities Council (MHC) is pleased to announce the selection of The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics  as the 2015 One Maryland One Book. The book was chosen by a committee of librarians, educators, authors, journalists, and bibliophiles in January from more than 125 titles suggested last fall by readers across the state under the theme, “Sports: The Human Drama of Athletic Competition.”

“I’m so excited about this year’s pick. I couldn’t put it down.  ‘The Boys in the Boat’ is a story of the sport of rowing, yes, but it is also a book about what it means to be human in a complicated and sometimes incomprehensible world. “ –Phoebe Stein, MHC Executive Director

About the Book: The Boys in the Boat
Daniel James Brown tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their quest for an Olympic gold medal. The team 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 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.

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 gain control over his life and build a stable future for his family. The crew is assembled by an enigmatic coach and mentored by a visionary, eccentric British boat builder, but their trust in each other is what makes them victorious. They remind the country of what can be accomplished when everyone quite literally pulls together—a perfect melding of commitment, determination, and optimism.

Drawing on the boys’ own diaries and journals, photos, and memories of a once-in-a-lifetime dream, The Boys in the Boat is an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in desperate 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.

“I’m thrilled and honored that The Boys in the Boat has been chosen as the One Maryland One Book read for 2015. From the Midshipmen of Annapolis to the Terrapins of UM, Maryland has spawned many outstanding crews. Beyond that, though, I am hopeful that the book’s larger themes and lessons will reverberate with Marylanders from all walks of life, whether or not they have ever set foot in a racing shell.” – Daniel James Brown
Awards and Recognitions

  • Winner, 2014 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing (non-fiction category)
  • Washington State Book Award 2014 Best General Nonfiction Book
  • American Booksellers Association (ABA)/Indie Choice Nonfiction Book of the Year 2014
  • #1 New York Times Bestseller, ABA/IndieNext Bestsellers list

What Others Are Saying About The Boys in the Boat

“Every sport needs its laureate. With The Boys in the Boat, crew has found its voice in Daniel James Brown, who tells a thrilling, heart-thumping tale of a most remarkable band of rowing brothers who upstaged Adolf Hitler at the 1936 Olympics.  Well-told history, packed with suspense and a likable bunch of underdogs at the heart of an improbable triumph.” —Timothy Egan, author of The Worst Hard Time

“When Brown, a Seattle-based nonfiction writer, describes a race, you feel the splash as the oars slice the water, the burning in the young men’s muscles and the incredible drive that propelled these rowers to glory.”Smithsonian Magazine

“I really can’t rave enough about this book.  Daniel James Brown has not only captured the hearts and souls of the University of Washington rowers who raced in the 1936 Olympics, he has conjured up an era of history […] I read the last fifty pages with white knuckles, and the last twenty-five with tears in my eyes […] this is Chariots of Fire with oars.”  —David Laskin, author of The Children’s Blizzard and The Long Way Home

“A stirring tale of nine Depression-era athletes beating the odds and their inner demons to compete at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. You can Google the result and spoil the sport, but that won’t dull the many pleasures in Daniel James Brown’s colorful, highly readable celebration of a grueling collegiate challenge.”—Bloomberg News

About the Author: Daniel James Brown

Daniel James Brown grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and attended Diablo Valley College, the University of California at Berkeley, and UCLA. Brown taught writing at San Jose State University and Stanford before becoming a technical writer and editor. He now writes narrative nonfiction books full time. Brown’s primary interest as a writer is in bringing compelling historical events to life as vividly and accurately as possible.

Brown lives in the country outside of Seattle, Washington with his wife, two daughters, and an assortment of cats, dogs, chickens, and honeybees. When he is not writing, he is likely to be birding, gardening, fly fishing, reading American history, or chasing bears away from the bee hives. Learn more at http://www.danieljamesbrown.com/.

About One Maryland One Book

Now in its eighth year, One Maryland One Book, a program of the Maryland Center for the Book at MHC, is Maryland’s first and only statewide community reading project. One Maryland One Book is designed to bring together diverse people in communities across the state through the shared experience of reading the same book. Readers are then invited to participate in book-centered discussions and other associated programs at public libraries, high schools, colleges and universities, museums, bookstores, and community and senior centers. Programs will take place in fall 2015. A calendar of free public events will be available online this summer.

Readers who wish to discuss the book or get event notices online should like the One Maryland One Book Facebook page.

One Maryland One Book 2015 is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities.  In 2014, the program was generously funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, LSTA grant funds, through the Division of Library Development & Services, Maryland State Department of Education with additional support from Constellation Energy, Wells Fargo, and M&T Bank. One Maryland One Book is coordinated in partnership with Enoch Pratt Free Library.

For more information or if your organization is interested in participating in or partnering with MHC on this project, www.onemarylandonebook.org or call (410) 685-0095.

Press Release