Photo of Book Club Claire on a background of bookshelves. Keep the Flame Alive podcast logo is in the lower right corner.

Episode 44: “Boys in the Boat” with Book Club Claire

Release Date: August 2, 2018

Category: Book Club | Podcast

We’re reviewing our first Olympic Fever Book Club selection, which means Book Club Claire is back! Claire Natsis joins us for a discussion of The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown, a moving take on the 1936 U.S. Men’s Olympic 8-person rowing team.

If you want to watch the related PBS documentary “The Boys of ’36,” go to its PBS site. It’s streaming there, but you might have to be a Passport member to view it (although the trailer and tons of clips are free on that site!). This page also has other streaming options, including iTunes, Amazon and Netflix.

Curious about Leni Riefenstahl’s groundbreaking Olympic film “Olympia”? It’s on YouTube:

Part 1: Festival of the Nations

Part 2: Festival of Beauty

Our next book club selection will be Lopez Lomong’s Running for My Life: One Lost Boy’s Journey from the Killing Fields of Sudan to the Olympic Games. We’re excited to read a contemporary personal story–Lopez is still competing this season! We’ll keep you posted on when we’ll have our next book club discussion, but you’ll have a couple of months to read the book.

Also on this episode, we have some great news on Team Olympic Fever member Jacqueline Simoneau, and we discuss Italy’s multi-city 2026 Winter Olympic bid.

DISCLAIMER: OLYMPIC® is a trademark of the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (“USOPC”). Any use of OLYMPIC® in the Olympic Fever podcast is strictly for informational and commentary purposes. The Olympic Fever podcast is not an official podcast of the USOPC. The Olympic Fever podcast is not a sponsor of the USOPC, nor is Olympic Fever associated with or endorsed by USOPC in any way. The content of Olympic Fever podcast does not reflect the opinions, standards, views, or policies of the USOPC, and the USOPC in no way warrants that content featured in Olympic Fever is accurate.



Note: This is an uncorrected machine-generated transcript and may contain errors. Please check its accuracy against the audio. Do not quote from the transcript; use the audio as the record of note.

Episode 44-Boys in the Boat with Book Club Claire-disclaimered

[00:00:00] Jill: Hi, this is Jill Jaracz. From September 2017 through April 2020, this podcast was known as Olympic Fever. We’ve since changed its name to keep the flame alive, but we’re committed to keeping our back catalog available to you. So please keep the name change and this disclaimer in mind as you listen to it.

Olympic is a trademark of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee or USOPC. Any use of Olympic in the Olympic Fever podcast It’s strictly for informational and commentary purposes. The Olympic Fever podcast is not an official podcast of the USOPC. The Olympic Fever podcast is not a sponsor of the USOPC, nor is Olympic Fever associated with or endorsed by the USOPC in any way.

The content of Olympic Fever podcast does not reflect the opinions, standards, views, or policies of the USOPC. And the USOPC in no way warrants that content featured in Olympic Fever is accurate. Thanks for listening, and now on to the show.

[theme music]

[00:01:38] Jill: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Olympic fever, the podcast for Olympics fans. I am your host, Jill Jaracz, joined as always by the lovely Alison Brown, my co host Alison.

Hello. How are you today? I am very well. How are you doing? I’m doing well. We’ve got a good show today with Book Club Claire is back to review her first Book Club Claire. I know. It was so nice to spend time with her and it was such a good book and we, we got some great listener feedback on it. So that was really exciting.

We hope you liked this little segment, I guess you would call it. But before we get into our conversation with Claire about our book, we have a little correction to last week’s show. Our friend Gustavo at the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, D. C. talked a little bit about the student uprisings that took place in October of 1968 within the, the tape.

And he said that the Olympics were in the summer, and that’s not really accurate. The Student Uprising took place on October 2, which was 10 days before the opening ceremony. So the Olympics also took place in October. And the Student Uprising culminated in a police and military massacre in Tlatelolco Plaza, and it killed this It was a pretty rough event in the city’s history and Mexico’s history as well.

And it killed this unknown number of civilians because government statistics say that just a few people were killed and a few more were wounded. It’s one of those, like, nobody really knows the exact figure of how many people died, and how many people disappeared, and how many were wounded, but at any rate, Gustavo alerted us to the error in the interview, and so we re edited the piece so that it’s correct.

So if you downloaded the show in the first 24 hours, you might have heard the original story, so we apologize for that error, but it is now corrected. So, on with Book Club Claire. Today we welcome back Claire Natsis, or as we prefer to call her, Book Club Claire. All summer long we’ve been reading The Boys in the Boat, Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown.

And now Claire is back to discuss this with us. Welcome back, Claire! It’s good to be back, guys. Thanks for having me. Oh man, this was a good book. This was a really good book. I’m so glad you

[00:03:57] Book Club Claire: thought so. I thought so too. The first thing I had to say was what did you guys think of the book overall and impressions that you got?

[00:04:05] Alison: I had to read it in chunks. Because I got very upset when they were telling Joe’s, uh, Joe Rantz’s childhood story. And how he was abandoned by his father, and just how hard it was. It got me so distraught that I kept having to put it aside. And I was like, okay, now I But I didn’t want to put it aside because I was enjoying the read of it.

But it was a hard read. In that sense. It was emotional. I

[00:04:33] Book Club Claire: thought that too. Yeah. And Jill?

[00:04:36] Jill: I loved the story. I thought it was super emotional and you think back to what that time was, what I imagined it to be like because I wasn’t alive then but you always wonder if history will repeat itself. And you kind of start putting parallels with what’s happening today.

But, okay, I’m going to be a little mean because I thought at times it was very melodramatic writing. And there were portions where, or not even portions, but where Joe was almost too perfect. And the one thing he couldn’t do was figure out how to trust his other teammates. But even then, it felt like that was told with a, that, I don’t even know how to say it.

The way it was written. Do you feel like the

[00:05:23] Alison: author imposed that frame? Like it wasn’t really honest?

[00:05:28] Jill: No, I don’t, I think he was a good guy overall. But like. Almost nothing he did was wrong. I mean, I don’t know how quite to say that. I’m not saying that he did anything, that he was a horrible kid and that’s why he got abandoned.

I’m not saying that he had his good days and bad days, but overall we see this like knight in shining armor kind of person. And, I mean, he’s a hero of a book, so, you’re, you’re gonna get that, but it was, it, sometimes, I think, sometimes that’s why I had to put it down, because I needed to let that sit for a while, and let the, the writing style fade out for me a little bit.

I think a

[00:06:11] Book Club Claire: lot of that has to do with the fact that Daniel Brown, the author of the book, met Joe first and got to know him, and in Brown’s mind, he probably had a very positive outlook on Joe, and he wanted to, thanks to the work of Joe’s daughter, tell the story that should be told, and maybe Avoid some of the parts that could put him in a bad light, and that’s easy to see with the story, and I like, um, going to Allison’s point, I like how Brown also made sure that he segmented the story himself.

He didn’t give all of Rance’s story at the beginning of the book and go chronologically, he split it up. So you start in 1932, and then you go back. To the turn of the century, and then you kind of back and forth, not only dealing with the people in Washington, but also the people in Germany as they’re putting the Olympics together.

I liked how it worked to kind of bring all the things together, and then by 1936, they’re all joined up. And that’s what I appreciated with the story. You could see all the pieces falling into place. And then in 1936, on that day. When the race is happening, everybody is there. Yeah. I’m just going to say

[00:07:34] Alison: that section where he’s actually chronicling the Olympic race or just the Olympics overall was fantastic.

That writing was

[00:07:42] Jill: fantastic. Yeah. And I would agree with that too, especially I did like how he split it up and you saw the preparations for Berlin 1936. And it’s so interesting to know what we know in hindsight. And it’s very hard to read that. With the, the mindset that people were duped by visiting or they chose to be duped.

Because it really seemed like Avery Bondage was just like, We’re putting on, we’re getting to the Olympics, it doesn’t matter. And it’s going to be great and we’re going to tell Germany they’re doing a great job and that’s great.

[00:08:17] Book Club Claire: I felt

[00:08:18] Alison: like I understood appeasement better. Like how that came to be.

Because of the show they put on and all these Americans and all these people went home and said, Oh, that’s not what’s happening there. I was there. Right. So I never understood that time frame and this I did in a way that I hadn’t before.

[00:08:42] Book Club Claire: It’s interesting seeing it back in 1936 and then wondering how much of that is taking place in modern day Olympics.

I saw that. Evidenced in China in Beijing 10 years ago, where there was a lot of, Oh, you know, they’re this society of people that, you know, they, they barely come out and we go and we’re so impressed by all of these amazing things that, that China offered. And, and I went to China right after the Olympics and to kind of see real China compared to the, you know, pristine version of Beijing that they.

told you about. It was, it was interesting, but it was less, on a less crazy level as Berlin, where they’re, you know, promoting the Aryan race, and how Jews are terrible, and dogs, and should be killed. And it’s just, it wasn’t like that, but it’s kind of curious to see how much the Olympics put on a facade to make it so that people can see what we want them to see.

It’s interesting, and, and to have athletes kind of break through and kind of say, Okay, this is, this is what is actually happening. Right. So, that’s what I thought. You,

[00:09:55] Jill: I think, I wonder if we, we saw that with Rio, where they tore down the slums. Yep. To build stuff or displace those people and get them out of, uh, everybody else’s sight.

[00:10:08] Book Club Claire: And I think a lot of that too, I mean, when we see what happens after the Olympics, Rio kind of, a few things happened in a positive way, you know, they were able to use the pools and transport them to different areas, but the favelas are still struggling, and some of the people that led the organizing committee are Under, under trial for corruption.

It’s crazy to think about that. We’re, we’re kind of going off on a tangent here, , but it’s, it’s when you see in 1936 how they orchestrated it all. You kinda wonder, though, it’s like how much that I had the taking place now, you know?

[00:10:43] Alison: Yeah, yeah. I had the same thought and the controversy of should we boycott Berlin?

That they talked about a little bit, it’s like it comes up every Olympics now, and what does that say about the Olympics bidding process, which Jill and I have certainly talked a lot about and the concerns over that. And it made me wonder, when did Berlin get awarded these games? You know how far in advance, I don’t know that much history of it.

You know, how much did the IOC understand what they were doing when they awarded those games to Berlin? Or did they award the way they awarded Sochi, the way they awarded Beijing, to say, these autocratic regimes are willing to dump lots of money into our project?

[00:11:34] Jill: 1931.

[00:11:35] Book Club Claire: Yeah, I remember reading about this, um, in a different book, and I remember that they mentioned that Hitler did not want the Olympics.

He said, and it’s mentioned in here, it’s something brought about by. Jews and the, oh, what are, the masons, the, it’s, uh, it’s brought about by the Jews and the Freemasons, and it took a while for him to come around to it, but eventually he embraced it because he knew that it could promote his country, his regime, in a positive light, and the winning of the Olympics took place before Hitler really agreed to it, but they kind of said, okay, we can use this, and nowadays, It’s more of a, here’s, we have a plan, and this is how it’s going to be, whereas back then, this was all still very new, and I’m kind of reading that with a different book called The Games by David Goldblatt, he really gets into how it started.

The Olympics started in such a raw manner. Okay, we’re gonna give it to Athens. Okay, now I guess we’ll give it to St. Louis. It, by the time we do it now, you have to have a plan. And you guys did that, broke it down very well with your bidding report that you did a couple of weeks ago. How it’s so detailed and it has to be because there’s just too many countries and too many people.

But kind of going back off of that. In the book, they do mention Al Obregson. He’s the head coach of the Washington varsity rowing team. And he kind of reminds me of a lot of coaches nowadays where they don’t want to say anything and they don’t want to give the unfair advantage by promoting his team or saying.

Truth statements. Maybe we’re gonna say some false statements. We’re gonna say that we’re slower than normal. Why do you think that Joe and the other members of the Washington rowing team worked their hardest even though their coach was so quiet and didn’t really give them what they needed? Oh, I think he

[00:13:32] Alison: did in a lot of ways.

I got the feeling that, well, first of all, we’re dealing with men in a different era. So let’s just put that out there. But I think they loved their coach and they knew their coach loved them. I mean, certainly by that, that, the Olympic

[00:13:48] Book Club Claire: year. Right, and there was

[00:13:49] Jill: a lot of respect, I felt, between the coach and the, between, going both ways between the coaches and the rowers.

So, I mean, they had a good program. They had earned a lot of respect. And I kind of wonder if, if they didn’t realize that Al was just not telling the truth to protect them. Because then, you know, if you say, oh, we’re slower than usual, I, I, well, first off, little side note. I was so surprised to hear how popular rowing was.

It was, that just amazed me at how, and, and something I’m curious about, like, why there were thousands and thousands of people watching these huge regattas, and then now you don’t hear a ton about rowing, unless you’re in a place that rows. And I not, I wonder if that was, if that’s just the same thing today.

Like, they had rowing on the West Coast and rowing on the East Coast. Did people care in the Midwest? Or, I don’t know, just the national coverage of the sport just blew me away. I

[00:14:52] Book Club Claire: think it has something to do with expense. It’s just very expensive to have a shell and to put out the hours and to have a river nearby that’s big enough to handle your mega races.

So I think it’s once again turned to a group of people that maybe are a little more well to do and not those hardened farm boys. Uh, that managed to get on just because of their height and their, you know, ability to withstand all the, or the back breaking workouts that they had. So, I, I was watching the club championships a couple of weeks ago and they’re clubs.

They have to be a club. You can’t just go out and row on your own. It’s something that you have to foster at a young age and be brought up in it because it’s so Technical now compared to what it used to be.

[00:15:46] Alison: Listener Patrick brought the same comment that you did, Jill, that he was so surprised that rowing was such a major sport at that time.

And I wonder if it’s also a partially because how many other sports were, I mean, you don’t have a National Basketball Association. You don’t really have the NHL in any, you know, football is not, I mean, there’s college football, but. The, you know,

[00:16:13] Jill: National Football League doesn’t Professional sports don’t really exist.

[00:16:16] Alison: Exist. So, right. So, college sports were it. And if these colleges make this the sport, then that’s what people, what people watch.

[00:16:27] Book Club Claire: And how much of it was Brown’s writing in saying, you know, there’s thousands of people there. Yeah, there were thousands of people there. How many really were like invested in it or how many were just there to kind of enjoy the day?

And oh, look, there’s a romance. Awesome. Something to watch on the river, you

[00:16:43] Alison: know, like they come out for college football games. Now, how many people are

[00:16:47] Book Club Claire: really there for the game? And how many are there to tailgate? Right, right, because there was

[00:16:52] Alison: certainly a lot of I love the story of the at the Washington Regatta, where they would be out on the boat, the the Washington students, and they’d be dancing and singing, and Oh yeah,

[00:17:03] Book Club Claire: huge parties.


[00:17:03] Alison: tip a little bit because they’d run over to watch the Regatta. Like,

[00:17:08] Jill: yikes!

[00:17:09] Book Club Claire: And how much of that still takes place today? I mean, they still have regattas. This regatta that we’re talking about between Cal Berkeley and Washington still happens. Yes. So, it’s still a major thing. And now, not only is it popular, it’s tradition.

And I think that has a lot, and coming from, you know, I’m a big University of Michigan fan, so tradition is big. Out West, I’m sure that rowing is huge because it’s been that way for so long. And it has this Storied history between these, these two schools.

[00:17:39] Jill: Right. And we have it out east too, I mean there’s a huge regatta here in Boston every October I believe called Head of the Charles and just people line the, line the river and watch for the day.

There’s rowing all day but it’s, it’s fascinating to see all the boats come in and you actually do see a lot of like high school crews row around me and college crews so it’s just interesting to see. People do this sport kind of on a day to day, just because we have the river here, and it’s kind of ingrained in the culture.

[00:18:13] Book Club Claire: With that, I’m thinking about the news reporter that they talked about frequently, who covered Washington rowing, uh, Royal Brom. What did you think about his consistent coverage. It almost seemed, um, like he was a beat writer for rowing. Did he, do you think he wrote about anything else besides rowing? It

[00:18:33] Alison: sounds like he could have written just about rowing.

Like there was enough that that could have been, or even just, you know, you Washington sports.

[00:18:42] Jill: Yeah, you have to wonder how big the sports section was back in,

[00:18:46] Book Club Claire: back in the day. I’m sure it was bigger than it is now. I mean, newspapers were huge. That’s where you got your news. Not everybody had a radio at the time.

I loved how many snippets we were able to get in the book from Brom’s writing, you know, saying, this is what, this is what Ulbrickson is thinking about the team at this point, or they looked okay at practice. He was one of those. Practice guys who went out and observed, I think in nowadays with media, it’s standard to have beat writer covering the team at practices and the games at media day.

And it’s amazing to see how that’s still is there in the 1930s. But how much do you think that comes into play nowadays, uh, with Olympics? Let’s get to that because with the Olympic coverage, we don’t get that much aside from every four years. Would you, how would you think you could promote that compared to what they’ve had in the past?

Well, it

[00:19:47] Alison: sounded to me like Royal Brom. Did a lot of the Mary Carillo stories, but just sort of that packaged, designed to be tearjerkers or designed to make you care about the athlete in an artificial way. And that I think we can do less of. Oh, yes, I agree, you know, take that out of the equation, but just following, you know, I think social media actually supplants that in that if you’re following an athlete on social media, you see their daily grind, you see them practicing, you know, you see them getting hurt and rehabilitating.

So that serves a lot of the same purpose, right? Connect people to those athletes as

[00:20:33] Book Club Claire: people, even your National

[00:20:36] Jill: Olympic Committee. Whatever country

[00:20:38] Book Club Claire: that is, their social media feeds,

[00:20:41] Jill: I think, help. And I, I do think that the IOC is trying with its YouTube channel and the Olympic channel on cable. And the Olympic channel is almost kind of a default in my house now.

Just because you never know what you’re gonna see. And I think they’re doing a good job with showing unusual sports. Or smaller sports. And showing some of the tournaments that they have. Like we watched archery the other week. Today I turned on the TV and badminton was on. You know, just different things are on and, and like here in the US, swimming is very popular.

Swimming is very popular kind of around the world, but like Katie Ledecky is just taking the world by storm. So that’s just seems like it’s all over my personal news. Whether that’s gonna be everyone’s news, I don’t know. You know, you have to wonder, like, there’s so many more people. How many people can they expose, get exposure to?

[00:21:40] Book Club Claire: And the other thing that, that

[00:21:42] Alison: made me, what you just said, Jill, made me think of when in that story, in the book, when they’re in Times Square and somebody comes up to, I think it’s Shorty Hunt, and says, oh, you’re Shorty Hunt, I, I recognize you from the paper. I think we are saturated with sports heroes. In our society, we have baseball players and football players, and now with the World Cup, we have the World Cup player.

I think then there were fewer sports heroes, so these guys could emerge. As kind of that milk fed, home grown, boy next door sports hero.

[00:22:21] Book Club Claire: It’s almost like this book took the place of those sob stories that we see nowadays. Because this book kind of, you know, you could almost see Merrick Carrillo being the person who’s presenting Joe Rantz to you.

I can hear her voice right now talking about him. And it is interesting, though, to see Joe’s story, I mean, you’ve got this kid whose mother dies early, his father weds the twin of his son’s wife, and then we have just crazy stories about them moving all over the place, and eventually the family leaves Joe behind, and That is, I mean, no matter how many tears you put behind it, that’s just a sad story in and of itself.

You can’t deny that. But how much of that That story created the Joe Rantz that we see at Washington, the one that kind of realized, thinks that he is the, uh, weak link in the rowing boat. You know, how much, how much of that, uh, the backstory created him, do you think? Well, Mer

[00:23:33] Alison: uh, listener Meredith and I were exchanging messages because at one point she was in the middle of the book and she said, Why are they all being so mean to Joe?

And I wrote her back, like, I know! What is happening? So, certainly, just like everyone, your childhood makes you who you are. You know, he was very strong. He was very, uh, resilient. He was physically strong. So that’s definitely all played into it.

[00:24:03] Book Club Claire: Do you think he wasn’t able to trust people?

[00:24:06] Jill: Oh, yeah, I think he had a huge

[00:24:08] Book Club Claire: trust problem.

It’s not, it’s not evidently stated in the book, but it’s kind of implied, especially at the end when he’s out of the boat or the first boat and then he’s in the first boat and he thinks that he’s the weak part of the boat and then And then kind of George Pocock has to kind of tell him you’ve got to, you know, trust and rely on your teammates and you can’t just trust and rely on yourself.

I think a lot of that has to do with how he was treated in his life. And the fact that he really couldn’t trust his father, couldn’t trust his stepmother, his siblings, even, even his older brother, uh, was kind of in and out every once in a while. He learned to fend for himself and all of a sudden he had to say.

There are eight other people in this boat and I have to give myself and allow myself to be a part of a team instead of on my own. I think that’s what really affected him. What do you guys, do you have anything else to add?

[00:25:05] Alison: I was so glad that he and Joyce ended up happy. I was just, at one point Meredith and I were talking and said, Joe better have the best life ever when this is over.

Which he

[00:25:15] Book Club Claire: did. Which it sounds like

[00:25:17] Alison: he, he did. So that made me cry too. It all ended up very happy. But on the team, I’m curious to know from the both of you, besides Joe, who of the team do you remember the most, struck you the most, kind of

[00:25:32] Jill: stuck

[00:25:32] Book Club Claire: with

[00:25:32] Jill: you? I remember Donald Hume. Uh, Don Hume, yes. So, what I wanted to know more is what was really wrong with him at the end.

Yes! Like, it was, it was played up and played up, and yeah, I know, especially when, at the, at, during the race! During the race! He passed out! Yes! And, and then you just kinda, uh, get, he recovered from his restless brain. He gets better. Yeah. So, what happened? Yeah, I So, that character was interesting to me. We don’t learn a whole lot about A lot of the other characters.

We’d get snippets and stuff. Bobby Mock was another one that I was really interested in because I just didn’t understand how much the surprise of learning he was Jewish affected him. Like, I knew it was a big deal and I I just didn’t know how Jewish people were treated in the US at the time. Or Like, were there things that he suddenly realized about how his family had acted in his life, or did he feel like he had been lied to?

That was an interesting detail, but, you know, it was something that I needed more historical context

[00:26:50] Book Club Claire: for. Absolutely. The anti Semitism in the country At the beginning of the 20th century, you don’t realize how pervasive it was until you start reading books that are written now and you hear, Oh, this person, you know, spoke, you know, this sentence about, you know, being anti Jewish and you go, Oh man, really?

And then this other person and you go, wow, they just threw it around. And they, it is amazing how. negative everybody was to that nationality and how much it doesn’t seem to be around now as much.

[00:27:30] Jill: Or at least, as a Gentile, I don’t think it’s around. But I bet there are plenty of Jewish people who think that there is a lot of anti Semitism.

Still around today.

[00:27:41] Book Club Claire: Yeah. Yeah. And to get that realization before Bobby Mock went to Germany, and, you know, you’re hearing all of these stories about things that are happening in Germany, and now you have to go and deal with it as a, as somebody who is Jewish, that had to be A little more terrifying for him compared to the rest of his teammates.


[00:28:04] Jill: and you know, because this just popped into my head, we can kind of compare that to Sochi and everybody who was homosexual really put themselves on the line by going there because they didn’t know what was happening. They did know that Russia banned homosexuality. So how do you deal with that and you’re probably living with that fear every minute you’re there wondering what will happen to you.

I don’t know, I think it’s just really hard to overcome that and, and still perform at the level that you

[00:28:37] Book Club Claire: want to. There are so many parallels between things back then and things now. It is amazing to see. I mean, even just reading the book, you’re going, Oh, that kind of sounds like this that happened in Rio, or this that happened in Sochi.

It’s, it is that cycle that we tend to see when we start to really study up on history. Well,

[00:29:00] Alison: Bobby Mock was my favorite, of course, because he’s the little guy. So I’m always going to root for the little guy. But. What you were saying about how he found out that he was Jewish, that was, to me, the most memorable moment in the entire book.

And yet, That kid had ice in his veins. Oh, yeah. I wanted to know more about him. Like, how did that happen? How could he not panic as Don Hume is collapsing over the oar? And how did he think to pound on the shell to give them a beat because they couldn’t hear him? He didn’t panic! In the most Panic inducing moment of his life in a country where he had to understand some of what was going on and yet He just did it.

[00:29:49] Jill: He’s amazing to me. Sometimes you get to that level and you can just do stuff that you didn’t know could be done or you just don’t I don’t I can’t explain it, but I know it can happen. It’s practice,

[00:30:02] Book Club Claire: practice, practice. They practiced. I mean, imagine they started in the fall and they didn’t actually start racing until what March, right?

Oh, yeah, that’s just insane how they do that, but to know stroke rates to bring it up from 27 to 36 and how do you know that I can’t even Count that way in my head, you know, to, to think those kinds of things and, oh, we’re going to hold off, you know, right in the national championships, we’re going to hold off, we’re going to hold off.

And meanwhile, you know, that your coach is watching you going, why are they speeding up? But you, the coxswain is such an important piece in, in eight boats. Nobody seems to understand that. They just think that there’s a short guy in the front screaming, but he is the. Quarterback of their boat. I

[00:30:47] Alison: didn’t realize that he was steering.

[00:30:50] Book Club Claire: Oh yeah, I didn’t realize that either. I didn’t realize that they had to steer. I mean,

[00:30:54] Alison: is that still true of modern

[00:30:55] Jill: boats? Don’t know. We’ll find out. We’ll find out. You will find out. I was a little perturbed that they did not row in their USA

[00:31:03] Book Club Claire: uniforms. Yeah.

[00:31:05] Alison: I thought it was sweet, actually. I didn’t mind.

There was a little part of me that was like, because they don’t plan to give up those jerseys. Right. Like there was, I know it was because they didn’t want to ruin them supposedly, but I think there was a little part of them that was like, you know what? We’re not wearing the jerseys because we’re not giving them up.

[00:31:25] Jill: I get what you’re saying. I just don’t, I don’t like it.

[00:31:28] Book Club Claire: That nationalism is also something that that that is not something that has, you know, been cyclical that seems to have grown ever since the Olympics have started. You know, I used to be so and I’m sorry. I’m really bringing in other books too. But you start early on and you just have a bunch of athletes that come up from.

You know certain places and then all of a sudden the more media attention the olympics get And you know by 1936 you’ve got radio and you’ve got television and you’ve got All these people that are interested and and the nationalism grows and by now, I mean you’ve got people selling t shirts and team usa is selling things to Inspire people to, you know, be proud of your country and you’ve got the USA chance and I think It’s amazing how much that has grown and just so that’s why not wearing the the uniform didn’t surprise me or Perturb me all that much because I kind of understood it wasn’t quite there yet.

[00:32:28] Jill: Well, like they couldn’t get away with that today

[00:32:31] Book Club Claire: No, not at all. No,

[00:32:32] Alison: no. And it makes you wonder about that line between patriotism, jingoism, and nationalism. And in the book, in the 1936 opening ceremonies, the flag bearer of the U. S. did not dip the flag in front of Hitler. And that, we would say, was patriotism.

And yet All the people in the stands see Kyle, that’s insane fascism. And I am absolutely not discounting that Nazism was insane fascism. Though, it, it just, when you see the steps happen, and it’s such a clear delineation when you look at it, for ourselves to recognize it, in ourselves. Like, when do we cross that line from, you know, USA, USA chance to being cruel to other teams or other visiting or the immigration issue or all these other things where when does that go too far?

When is it patriotism? And when is it?

[00:33:41] Book Club Claire: There is an interesting, um, comments that Brown has in the book. He, he talks about how he’s gotten emails thanking him for, uh, on both sides of the political spectrum, saying if the other side read this book, the world would be a better place. And he, he says, I find that fascinating because the book isn’t intended to be political at all.

But if there is something in that message that appeals so much to both sides and tends to bring us together, then I’m all for it. So, you know, you have that uniting aspect that he was trying to go across, but let’s bring it around. What is the high point? What was the most exciting point of the book? I’m not going to talk, you know, we’re not going to limit it to the, uh, gold medal race, anything in the

[00:34:21] Alison: book.

Probably the Olympic trials when they were talking about somebody where Tom, I think it’s Tom Bowles has the fedora and he’s beating the one guy. And then somebody else is eating his credentials because he’s getting so nervous. And even though I knew they obviously made the team, I did find myself getting nervous.

Like, oh my god, they’re not gonna win. Of course they’re gonna win. We know the end of the book. But that I definitely got caught up in.

[00:34:50] Book Club Claire: Are you sure that wasn’t the, uh, National Championships? And not the Olympic Trials?

[00:34:55] Alison: No. But whichever race that was, where they were eating

[00:34:59] Book Club Claire: The eating of the credentials.

The eating of the credentials

[00:35:01] Alison: is the thing that got me. I thought it was the Trials because I thought it was at Princeton. But it could have been the Princeton

[00:35:08] Book Club Claire: Yeah, Washington had become the national champions and swept the Hudson. Yeah, there it is. Tom Bowles continued. Yeah, so it’s all, it’s, it’s the national championship.

I thought that one was the most exciting too. Even though the gold medal race is insane because of, of Don Hume, uh, kind of passing out and Bobby Mock having to try and figure out a way to, to get the crew together. You still knew that they were going to win for the national championship. That was. That was a little more up in the air.

So, I, I, that’s what I felt. Jill, did you have a high

[00:35:40] Jill: point? You know what, uh, what else I liked, what, for a high point, was when the boat finally came together. Mm. And they got that magic. I wanted more, because I wanted to understand how they all got to that point. You, you kind of got that with Pocock talking to Joe, and having that heart to heart with him.

But, there’s that magic that you feel, and I think Daniel James Brown did as good of a job as he could with trying to explain that magic. And I felt, because there was always like the, Oh, Joe’s not doing so good. He’s not in this boat. He’s not in that boat. How did those, it’s that magic of that puzzle finally locking together?

And I think when you, for me, I like those magical moments when that That kind of stuff comes together. Do

[00:36:29] Book Club Claire: you think that the story was about the boys in the boat like Joe Rantz wanted it to be or do you think it was more about Joe Rantz featuring the boys in the boat? I think it’s the latter.

[00:36:41] Jill: I think it’s Joe Rantz featuring the boys in the boat.

Which in a sense, then that’s probably why it was so hard to capture that magic of them all coming together. Because you didn’t know some of the boys in the boat as well as you could have. And maybe Daniel James Brown didn’t know, couldn’t get some information on those boys in the boat. And the, the story he was trying to tell, and maybe he was working too hard at painting a picture of the times and the, you know, getting the weather right, that he neglected to, I mean, that was good to set atmosphere.

Every once in a while it got to be a little too much for me, like, oh, here’s the weather report again. But it really felt like Joe Rantz’s story. And not necessarily about them all coming together. I

[00:37:30] Book Club Claire: can definitely see that. Allison? Well, I was going to

[00:37:32] Alison: say the moment that I felt like it switched was when we got to Berlin.

Then it really felt like it was the boys story and not Joe’s. They were talking about what they all did, how they were all feeling, what they were all experiencing. Yeah. But before that, it was definitely And even Ulbrickson’s story, you know, the coach’s story, I felt like I knew him better than any of the boys in the boat except for Joe.


[00:38:00] Book Club Claire: could see if this was made into a movie. That you would have your lead star playing Joe, and then you might have some other no name actors playing the other eight or other boys in the boat. I could definitely see that. The

[00:38:15] Alison: older star would be Al Ulbrickson. Yes. You know, he’d have, you know, the gravitas guy in that

[00:38:22] Book Club Claire: role.

And then you have to bring in the British dude, any British dude, to play George Pocock. Just has to have a nice, classic British accent. Can’t be Cockney. No,

[00:38:32] Alison: you know who you need to play George Pocock? Is Hugh Laurie. Oh, since his father

[00:38:38] Jill: was in it.

[00:38:39] Alison: Makes an appearance

[00:38:40] Book Club Claire: in the book. Are we producers of this movie now?

Are we okay with that? I do feel like this story is something that should be told. People often think of just 1936 as Jesse Owens and Lenny Riefenstahl’s Olympia. But they don’t really see all the other amazing stories that took place in the, in that Olympic Games. Cause, you know, it is more than just track and field.

I, I can’t believe I’m saying that because track and field is my favorite thing of all time. But, it, it, there is so much more. And these guys from Washington really made an impact. And I’m proud, I’m very glad that their story is being told. So, I’m glad that you guys read the story with me. Oh,

[00:39:24] Jill: well, thank you, Claire.

Thank you for bringing this book into our lives. I think it was really good.

[00:39:29] Alison: I have two more reader things that go, that are perfectly rounded. So listener Erica had said that what she loved about the book was that she felt like she really knew them. She really knew those boys. And that was very emotional and, and touching to her.

And then Susan called the whole thing a miracle that they won. And I

[00:39:54] Book Club Claire: can’t disagree with her. You read the end of the book and you’re going oh, you know, these guys are so great And they’re moving on with their lives and you know, they went through this hardship And yeah, I can agree with Erica for sure that it really you you know These boys and when they start leaving your heart breaks a little bit.

I know

[00:40:12] Alison: I was like, I’m so relieved that they never lost touch with each

[00:40:15] Jill: other. Oh, yeah, that was really cool I was

[00:40:17] Alison: like, thank

[00:40:18] Jill: God They ended up hating each other Yeah, the reunion rooms were so

[00:40:23] Alison: cool And then the guy who was always smoking the Lucky Strikes died of lung cancer. Yeah. I’m like, Oh, really?

[00:40:31] Book Club Claire: I think my favorite part in the entire story, though, was when they were in Poughkeepsie and they were finishing up, uh, practice.

And they’re like, you know what? Hyde Park’s not too far from here. Let’s roll up and see the president. And, oh my goodness, that, that’s amazing. You could not do that anymore. And the son

[00:40:51] Alison: just, you know, oh, come on in, see the library. Let’s have a chat. That

[00:40:56] Book Club Claire: was pretty great. Uh, yeah. So, I think if there isn’t anything else from the two of you, we can shut the cover on this book and call it a book club.

Say goodbye to the boys. Say

[00:41:10] Jill: goodbye. Oh, don’t say that.

[00:41:13] Book Club Claire: I’m going to go watch the documentary because I actually kept myself from watching it. I didn’t want to overlap different things, even though I did with my other books. But I’m going to do that. And I will let you know if there’s anything else. Yeah.

So that’s on. I think that’s. PBS, is that Netflix? It is

[00:41:29] Alison: on Amazon, and I think it’s on, because that’s where I saw it, I think it’s streaming, and I’m not sure if you can get it on the PBS website, but I think so. I’ll

[00:41:39] Jill: look, I’ll look, and we’ll put it in the show notes. Yeah. Great,

[00:41:42] Book Club Claire: so listeners, go read it or go watch it.

Learn this story. It’s fantastic.

[00:41:48] Jill: All right, what, what do you think, what’s on tap for our next book club selection? So

[00:41:55] Book Club Claire: it looks like our next book is going to be running for My Life, one Lost Boys Journey from the Killing Fields of Sudan to the Olympic Games that was written by Lopez Lamon, who was an Olympian in 2008 and 2012 for America.

He, he came over to the United States, was adopted by, uh, a American family, and ran for the US in the O in several Olympics. So, if you are able to find that book, check it out from the library, check it out, because we’re gonna, we’re gonna get a little more contemporary with the next one. I’m excited. I’m

[00:42:28] Jill: excited also to read a personal story and another overcoming hardship.

But I’m, I’m also looking forward to learning about what his backstory is, and that kind of turmoil that I also, even though it’s contemporary history, I don’t know

[00:42:45] Book Club Claire: a lot about that. And I think it’s something that we all can learn a little about, because I, I’m in the same boat as you, uh, boat, um, I’m in the, I’m in the same boat as you because, yeah, I do not know as much about the strife that’s happening in Africa, in many different countries there, so it’ll be an interesting read and something different, for sure.


[00:43:06] Jill: Well, listeners, you can pick up the book, wherever you pick up your finer books. And we will keep you posted on a date that, uh, we’ll have our next book club meeting. But it’ll be, we’ll give you a couple months, just like this one, and it’ll be a good time. I’m really looking forward to it. So thank you, Book Club Claire.


[00:43:25] Book Club Claire: very welcome. Book

[00:43:26] Jill: Club, Claire. Thank you once again, Claire. That was a lot of fun. Yes. That was a

[00:43:31] Alison: little too much fun, probably.

[00:43:34] Jill: So we will have more information about the Boys in the Boat documentary in our show notes as well as our next Book Club selection, which is Running for My Life, One Lost Boy’s Journey from the Killing Fields of Sudan to the Olympic Games by Lopez Lamont.

And I’m really excited about that book, because

[00:43:53] Alison: I’m excited, but almost a little nervous. How so? Because, just like I was, I, I said in our conversation with Claire, I, I get very attached to these people when I read a book. Even, even when I read fiction, I get very attached. So I know this is some, some not great things happen to this kid.


[00:44:14] Jill: Yeah, there’s going to be some rough stuff, but I think it’ll also be inspirational. That’s true. And it’s cool because he is still running today. I know. And competing as well. So it’s really exciting to have something that we have from contemporary history and can relate to and. And, uh, learn about. So I’m very excited.

Yes. On with some other updates. We have an update for our, uh, one of our Team Olympic Fever members. Very exciting news. Jacqueline Simoneau, who is our Synchronized Swimming member, uh, she was named to the 2018 Team Investors Group Amateur Athletics Fund Bursary. And this is a partnership with athletes.

Can, which is an association of Canada’s national teams and the investors group, which is a Canadian financial services company. So basically she got a big old grant and that money is going to be able to cover her training and competition costs, which includes world series events in this year and next year.

And through those, she hopes to achieve a world ranking with which she can then hopefully qualify for Tokyo 2020. And so this money will be a huge help in allowing her to have enough sufficient training time. And then she’ll also have time to do some of the charity work she likes to do and support her community.

And she also likes to support the Make A Wish Foundation. So. That is a huge deal and we are so proud of you, Declan. And so excited

[00:45:43] Alison: for you because I mean, whenever we talk to the athletes, I mean, money is always an issue. So it’s nice when it doesn’t have to be an issue, at least for a little while.

[00:45:54] Book Club Claire: Right.


[00:45:55] Jill: congratulations. Yay. So we are excited. Did you see that? Italy is going to put forward a bid for, with the Winter Games 2026?

[00:46:05] Alison: They heard my prayers. They’re doing the combined city bid that I mentioned a few weeks ago, that I said I hoped they were going to do that, and they are!

[00:46:17] Jill: Right, so Inside the Games reported that they’re going to do, it’s kind of like a World Cup style thing.

So they put three cities together so that they could spread out the sports they won’t need to do to build any new venues, they say, and it would break out. Milan would have curling, ice hockey, short track, speed skating, and figure skating. Torino would get speed skating, ice hockey, slalom, and then there would be slalom alpine in nearby Sestriere.

And Cortina would have All of the other Alpine skiing and sliding sports and then the Nordic combined and ski jumping would be in nearby Val de Fiemme. The thing is, because I did some, a little bit of calculations, you, you look at like Milan to Cortina, that distance is like just over 400 kilometers and that is four and a half hours of drive.

And then Torino to Cortina, which would be the furthest west to the furthest east. That’s Almost 550 kilometers and that’s like five hours, 40 minutes drive. So you really are talking about spreading out the Olympics and creating three different centers of Yeah, I

[00:47:30] Alison: wonder who would have the opening and who would have the closing.

Yeah, they

[00:47:34] Jill: hadn’t figured that out yet, but probably Milan.

[00:47:37] Alison: And Milan of the three has never had an Olympics, whereas Cortina and Torino have.

[00:47:42] Jill: Right, right. So it’ll be interesting to see how that works. And maybe, I mean. Part of me is like, oh, but you’re going to miss some of that whole like co mingling of sports and athletes and fans and But there’s still

[00:47:56] Alison: multiple sports at each site.

That’s true. And maybe it’ll just make it more manageable for each city. Right.

[00:48:03] Jill: That would be the, the thing. Like,

[00:48:05] Alison: you’re talking When we go through that 2020 and the, the new norm and all those requirements for hotels and

[00:48:12] Jill: things. Yeah. Spreading it around. That would be my wonder if that’s going to be the next big wave of the Olympics.

If it’s going to be this big of a celebration or this big of an event, then do we have to have combined bids? Much like, much like the World Cup. So perhaps that’s why it’ll be interesting to see that if Italy does get selected because that would set a precedent, then it would be interesting to see what happens with the summer games because that’s really, you know, an event that needs twice the size.

Yeah. Yeah. So you’re talking about really being able to split that up, but you know what the best part of this is? You get

[00:48:52] Book Club Claire: to say Cortina.

[00:48:53] Jill: I get to say not only Cortina, but

[00:48:55] Alison: Rino and Milano.

[00:48:58] Jill: Okay.

Well, we won’t know if you can say those all until, like, next year,

[00:49:06] Alison: so. Well, I’m just going to keep talking about their bid

[00:49:09] Jill: between now and then. I see. I see. I I’ve, I’ve seen on Twitter that Calgary’s bid might be fading a little bit because of citizen support issues, but we’ll, we will see, which makes it kind of sad because I think Calgary could do it again.

[00:49:22] Alison: Yeah, but you can’t say Calgary, but you can Cortina. It’s just more fun.

[00:49:29] Jill: Okay.

We’ve got some news for us. We are now on Spotify. So if you listen to Spotify and listen to podcasts on Spotify you should be able to find us there, which is very exciting. Then also, another thing, if you want to keep up with Team Olympic Fever on Twitter, we’ve put together a Twitter list that’s going to have all of our Team Olympic Fever members on it.

So subscribe to that list and then their Twitter feeds are all in there so you don’t have to go through every person individually.

[00:50:02] Alison: We have the dedicated Instagram now. Yes. So we have Olimpfever on Instagram. Yes. Which will. Be just various and interesting bits and Someone was mentioning to me. They missed our trivia.

Oh, really? Yes an actual real person that I know was saying how come no more trivia and just because we’ve had such long shows So I have starting next week. We’ll be starting trivia Tuesday. So I’ll be putting trivia questions on Facebook That’s cool. Yeah, up in there. So I’ll see who I can

[00:50:36] Jill: stump. Okay.

So we’ll have Trivia Tuesdays on Facebook. Awesome. I’m excited about that. And I guess I, I assume that employees of Olympic Fever are not allowed to

[00:50:46] Book Club Claire: play. Well, you know,

[00:50:48] Alison: if people have trivia questions for me that they would like

[00:50:51] Book Club Claire: to

[00:50:52] Alison: That would be cool. You know, so I’ve post, I’ll post a question, but you know, Tuesdays are the days to see, and I promise I will not cheat by looking up the answer.

Okay. They can always answer me on Facebook with another question.

[00:51:04] Jill: So if you like trivia, Olympic trivia, Tuesday’s the day, Facebook is the place. Our Facebook page is the place. And that about wraps it up for this week and maybe we’ll see trivia back here soon. If we

[00:51:17] Alison: can shut up about everything

[00:51:19] Jill: else. But it would be nice.

It would be nice every once in a while. What I like about the trivia is that it builds my knowledge in other ways. So, it’s always fun to, to do a little deep dive and try to stump you. Which isn’t that hard. Be serious. All right. On that note, we will wrap it up for this week. Next week, we will have the mayor of Montreal’s Olympic Village, Yvan Dubois.

That was an Interesting, interesting conversation that we had about how the village was created and the atmosphere all about the village. And even though Montreal was well into the Olympics history, you’re still kind of talking about a wild, wild West when it comes to knowing how to set up an Olympic village.

So it’s interesting to learn about the early days of That element of the Olympics as well. So we are looking forward to sharing that with you and hope you tune in and until next week, thank you Alison as always, and Sacro

[00:52:17] Alison: Blue ,

[00:52:20] Jill: and keep the flame alive. We love to hear from you. Email us at

[00:52:25] Alison: or leave us a voicemail at 5 3 0

[00:52:31] Jill: 7 6 3 3 8 3 7.

That’s 5 3 0 7

[00:52:36] Book Club Claire: oh fever. You can also interact with us on social. We’re OlinFever on Facebook,

[00:52:41] Jill: Twitter, and Instagram. Thanks again for listening, and until next time, keep the flame

[00:52:47] Book Club Claire: alive. Nobody seems to understand that. They just think that there’s a short guy in the front screaming.