The non-fiction book is about the University of Washington eight-oared crew which represented the United States in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, and narrowly beat out Italy and Germany to win the Gold Medal.
There are two backstories. One illustrated how all nine members of the Washington team came from lower middle class families and had to struggle to earn their way through school during the depths of the Depression. Along with the chronicle of their victories and defeats in domestic competition, the reader learns the importance of synchronization of the eight rowers as they respond to the commands of the coxswain and his communications with the stroke, consistent pacing, and sprint to the finish so that all team members are left completely exhausted and in pain at the end of a competitive race.
The second backstory begins with a depiction of Hitler decreeing construction of the luxurious German venues at which the Games would take place. Along the way, the book also explains how the Nazis successfully covered up the evidence of their harsh and inhumane treatment of the Jews so as to win worldwide applause for the 1936 Olympic Games, duping the United States Olympic Committee among others.
All comes together with a description of the final race. During the 1930s, rowing was a popular sport with millions following the action on the radio. The victorious Olympians became national heroes. In accordance with the strictures of amateur athletics, the boys sank into relative obscurity after their victory, but were still better off than their parents, and for the rest of their lives proud of their accomplishment.
Peter Vidmar won gold medals in the men's all-around team competition and the pommel horse competition, as well as a silver medal in the men's all-around individual gymnastics competition at the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles. He was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame. Peter is one of only three athletes inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame twice: first as an individual, then as a member of the historic 1984 U.S. men's gymnastics team. He also was the highest-scoring American gymnast in Olympic history.
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