New Editions of ‘The Boys’

Greg Denieffe writes:

Regular readers of HTBS will know that Daniel James Brown’s The Boys in the Boat is held in high esteem in both the USA and in Britain. This month (April 2014) sees the release of the latest edition of the book – in French. The cover is similar to that of the UK hardcover (published by Macmillan, 6 June 2012). I like the colour of this new edition, the picture is clearer and the gathering clouds behind the crew hint at the menace of the war – the gathering storm – that was only three years away.

The French title Ils Etaient un Seul Homme translates word-for-word as They were One Man. Admittedly, it loses something in translation, but rowing people will certainly know what the publisher is saying. When Brown was interviewing Joe Rantz about his experiences at the Berlin Olympics and seeking his consent to tell his story, Rantz insisted that the book should be about ‘the boys in the boat’. For sure he was no ordinary Joe.

The sub-title L’historie vraie de l’equipe d’aviron qui humilia Hitler translates as The True Story of the Rowing Crew that Humiliated Hitler. Of course, this is an attempt to convey the sentiment of the English sub-title, An Epic Journey to the Heart of Hitler’s Berlin, which is a little more subtle. Published in paperback on 5 April by La Librairie Vouibert, you can buy a copy here.

This is not the first foreign language edition of Brown’s book. Last year (25 July 2013), a Dutch edition was published in paperback. Translated by Joost Mulder, it is called De Jungens in de Boot – De Legendarische Acht Van 1936. Typically Dutch, it is understated and straight to the point, The Boys/Guys in the Boat – The Legendary Eight 1936.

The cover is very simple in design; the photograph of the crew on the dock is timeless and the addition of the eagle flying overhead is the only hint of Nazism on display. If a new rowing book in Dutch is your ‘kopje thee’, you can buy a copy here.

A British paperback edition of the book was published by Pan on 2 January 2014. This is a slightly revised to include a few corrections as suggested by the HTBS team. It also includes an additional photo of the Huskies in 1929 sawing a giant log as part of their training. This was spotted by Brown when he read last August’s book review by HTBS editor Göran Buckhorn. The first thing you notice with this edition is the wonderful velvety feel of the cover. The picture of the boys on the dock has been darkened; the blood red sky and the inclusion of the Brandenburg Gate draped in Nazi flags should broaden the appeal of the book to those with a general interest in the Second World War.

Photograph courtesy of Thomas E. Weil.

The American paperback is due to be published on 27 May by Penguin Books. At this stage it looks like it will have the same cover as the American hardcover published by Viking (4 June 2013). The photograph used on these editions is in stark contrast to the European ones. The crew is rowing, in warm-up routine, but there is no connection with Berlin or the Olympics.

If you’re still reading, you must be a real bibliophile! So for you, here are a few other editions to look out for:

UK Hardcover – Macmillan (6 June 2013).

UK Large print – W. F. Howes Ltd (1 July 2013).

Audiobook – Penguin (4 June 2013).
Whichever edition you decide to opt for, remember this great book is a success story not only for Daniel James Brown but for OUR sport, whatever you call it!  #Aviron #Canottaggio #Rámhaíochta #Remo #Rodd #Roeien #Rowing #Rudern

One comment

  1. According to a recent review in “La république des livres”, the French edition was translated from the original by Gregory Martin.

    The French title “Ils étaient un seul homme” which translates as “They were one man” is taken from chapter 134 of “Moby Dick”:

    “They were one man, not thirty. For as the one ship that held them all; though it was put together of all contrasting things—oak, and maple, and pine wood; iron, and pitch, and hemp—yet all these ran into each other in the one concrete hull, which shot on its way, both balanced and directed by the long central keel; even so, all the individualities of the crew, this man’s valor, that man’s fear; guilt and guiltiness, all varieties were welded into oneness, and were all directed to that fatal goal which Ahab their one lord and keel did point to.”

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