New Book: Rowing In Britain

Afraid of getting a bad reputation after Tim Koch writing on Saturday about a new ‘bonkbuster’ on rowing, HTBS feels that we immediately have to write a review about a real book about rowing. Luckily, just the other day Julie Summers’s lovely little 56-page book Rowing in Britain landed on the editor’s desk.

HTBS briefly mentioned Summers’s book in a post on 8 May in a discussion about the wonderful cover of the book Pieces of Eight by Chris Dodd. In that post I feared that both Dodd’s book and Summers’s book should end up with the same artwork on the cover. So is not the case. Instead, Summers’s Rowing in Britain has a beautiful lithography by Maurice and Jacques Goddet, published in Les Jotes du Sport (Paris, 1932) – see above.

Despite that Summers’s book only has 56 pages, she manage to get a lot of history and information in on rowing and sculling in, if not Britain, so at least England (although, Peter Haining and Katherine Grainger, both from Scotland, are mentioned). The author has chapters on competitive rowing, amateurs v. professionals, the Boat Race, Henley Royal Regatta, Women’s rowing, and Olympic rowing. If you have read any books on these subjects you are not likely to find anything new in Summer’s well-written book, but you will find quite a few grand old and new photographs, and prints, paintings, and more. Summers has also manage to throw in some of the latest champions and some new ‘things’: Katherine Grainger (2011 World Champion in the double sculls), Adam Freeman-Pask (2011 Wingfield Sculls), and a new cup at 2012 Henley Royal (Junior Women’s Quadruple Sculls), and a special text about ‘eating and training’ which is an interesting read.

There are some minor misprints and errors here and there, which is a pity. (Dick Southwood is Southworld in the book; some rowers are missing in the Index; Geoffrey Page was not a historian of London RC, etc.) But never mind.

This is, indeed, a nice little book to give away to non-rowing and rowing friends, to the girl-friend or the boy-friend who wonder what on earth you are up to out on the river, to your local library (because it lacks books on rowing), because it’s soon the Olympics and you still don’t know the difference between sweep-oar rowing and sculling (shame on you), etc.

Rowing in Britain is sold both in Great Britain, in the USA, and Canada. Buy it!

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