By John Ostapkovich
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Olympics have been the source of many inspirational tales and a journalist is following one of the biggest, hot off the presses from 1936.
If you’ve never heard of America’s gold medal winning eight-oar rowing team in Hitler’s Berlin Olympics, don’t kick yourself.
Author Daniel James Brown wouldn’t have either, but for a neighbor alerting him to her dying father, Joe Rantz, who told the tale of farm hands and loggers adopting the sport of Ivy Leaguers. Brown was bowled over.
“I asked him straight-out, can I write a book about your life, Joe? And he said, no, you can’t write a book about my life but you can write a book about all the boys in the boat. It was very important to Joe that, if I was going to write this story, that it be about what they did together, not any one of them,” he says.
Brown says The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics is an underdog story in the mold of Chariots of Fire or Seabiscuit, but sees Joe Rantz’s unwavering devotion to the team as emblematic of those who survived the Depression, and maybe even prospered, with a little help from their friends.