Rowing Books for Christmas III

9 December 2020

By Göran R Buckhorn

Göran R Buckhorn continues to help you to find books for a rower’s Christmas stocking or to fill a spot under the Christmas tree.

HTBS is here to help you find rowing books for your Christmas list. In two previous articles, I have recommended some rowing books that have rarely been mentioned on this site or at least not been fully reviewed. In this third and last article of suggesting books for your list to Santa, I will point to books that have been reviewed on this site.

Chris Dodd: Thor Nilsen: Rowing’s Global Coach

“Chris Dodd has done it again, written another brilliant tale about rowing, a rower and a coach. Thor Nilsen is well-written and entertaining and fills its purpose of shining light on a man who deserves to be in the spotlight. It can be said that never have so many in the rowing world had so much to thank one man for. However, I would like to tip my rowing cap in two directions: thank you, Thor and Chris!” – Reviewed by Göran R Buckhorn. Full review here (part I) and here (part II)

John Beresford: Jack Beresford: An Olympian at War

“John says that his book is the story that his Father never wrote (although he had discussed Chris Dodd writing his biography). It is also a narrative with a delicious (if vicious) irony; the German bullets that wounded 19-year-old 2nd Lieutenant Beresford in 1918 led in him abandoning rugby and taking up rowing. Eighteen years later, the German favourites to win the Olympic Double Sculls paid the price of Jack’s change of sport as, in the final’s last 100 metres, Dick Southwood and Jack Beresford rowed them to a standstill to win Olympic Gold.” – Reviewed by Tim Koch. Full review here.

David Owen: Thomi Keller – A Life in Sport

“Thomi travelled the world, most of the time living out of a suitcase, on behalf of rowing. Among his enormous legacy is the Keller Library at the River & Rowing Museum at Henley, while his sculling boat Pourquoi Pas is in the museum’s boat collection. Much of what we experience today in World Rowing can be traced to him. The Story of Worldwise Thomi was waiting to be told, and David Owen, at the behest of Thomi’s son Dominik, has done it with panache. Go read it.” – Reviewed by Chris Dodd. Full review here.

Andrew Larkin: My Life in Boats, Fast and Slow

“After decades of life in medicine, Larkin takes to the water again, this time in an Alden Ocean Shell, nothing like the sleek Stämpfli eight that he left behind in 1968. Here he can soak in the beauty of the Connecticut River scenery in all seasons: the birds in spring, the flowers and trees in summer, leaves in the fall, and snow and ice on the banks in late fall. Finally, he challenges himself to row the Connecticut River from Northampton, Massachusetts, to Long Island Sound, camping along the way. Personal challenges overcome again.” – Reviewed by Bill Miller. Full review here.

Hugh Matheson and Chris Dodd: More Power: The Story of Jürgen Grobler, The Most Successful Olympic Coach of All Time

“Jürgen Grobler’s decision not to be involved in any biographical projects until he has finished coaching is interesting in that it suggests that he can actually envisage a time when he ceases to coach. Assuming that he has read More Power, perhaps he now regrets not giving his official blessing to this detailed (but never dull), technical (but never inaccessible) and affectionate (but never sentimental) tribute. It is a splendid achievement by the authors, Hugh Matheson and Chris Dodd, the literary equivalent of the pairing of Redgrave and Pinsent or Bond and Murray – More Power to their elbows!” – Reviewed by Tim Koch. Full review here.

Daniel Boyne: The Seven Seat

“As Dan mentions in his introduction, this is a ‘whimsical little book,’ the primary goal is to amuse. And he has for sure succeeded in his endeavour. The Seven Seat might not reach the same literary heights as The Amateurs, which is about the 1984 rowing Olympians, but when it comes to college rowing from the period 1980s and onwards, many American rowers will be able to recognise their own days on a seat in a college boat, rowing in a wooden shell with a wooden oar, and when training off the water didn’t include an erg, but maybe a Gamut rowing machine, ‘a torturous contraption’, as Dan calls it.” – Reviewed by Göran R Buckhorn. Full review here.

Bruce Coe: Pulling Through: The Story of the King’s Cup

“Just published is Bruce Coe’s thorough account of how the Australian Army No 1 crew won the cup presented by King George V for the eight-oared event at Henley’s hastily organised Peace Regatta in 1919. Pulling Through, The Story of the King’s Cup, now awarded for the winner of Australia’s premier event, the inter-state championship, is timely because the pot will be on show at this year’s Henley Regatta, and the Stewards are holding a one-off challenge for eight military crews from eight countries for a replica of the cup.” – Reviewed by Chris Dodd. Full review here.

Arshay Cooper: A Most Beautiful Thing; documentary film by Mary Mazzio

“Mazzio’s documentary is based on Arshay Cooper’s award-winning self-published memoir, Suga Water, which will be republished by Flatiron in July 2020 under the title A Most Beautiful Thing.
[. . .]
Finally, the publishers’ description of Cooper’s book tells of the simple thing that persuaded a young Cooper to try ‘crew’:

Arshay’s life is about to take an unexpected turn. One day as he’s walking out of school, he notices a boat in the school lunchroom, and a poster that reads ‘Join the Crew Team’. No one signs up. The next day, he sees the boat again. Only this time, a table is piled high with pizza. Arshay signs up. This decision to join is one that will forever change his life, and those of his…. teammates.” – Reviewed by Tim Koch. Full review here.

Koss Termorshuizen and Paul van Heugten: Van Boom tot Boot

“At a London trip in 2015, Koos and Paul watched the The Great River Race on the Thames – Tim Koch wrote an article about the race in 2016 – and got so inspired that they started to do research into the roots of rowing boats. Their book starts in the Mesolithic, about 10,000 years ago, at a time when, Koos writes, ‘England and the continent of Europe were not yet separated (probably an abhorrence to some British politicians, but very true).’

Koos continues to write: ‘Surprisingly, the oldest boat in the world was to be found in the basement of a museum in a small town in the Netherlands, named Assen. It is a logboat, which is more than 10,000 years old.’

The book then follows the Great Migration, the Vikings and the Cornish pilots to end with the fastest of racing shells, the Empacher eight rowed by a German crew at the 2017 World Cup II (5:18.680). A lot of the pages in the book are taken up by English traditional boatbuilding, Koos mentions.” – Reviewed by Göran R Buckhorn. Full review here.

Benoît DecockFausses Pelles

“The 26 short stories are flooded with depth and humour and set the pace of the book. They show the writer’s skills for cadence and clever metaphors. Of course, they echo situations every rower has gone through, but it also carries away the reader, who might not be accustomed to rowing, towards a poetic and meditative or competitive world – all the more so, as the very few but necessary technical terms are made explicit at the bottom of the pages.” – Reviewed by Hélène Rémond. Full review here.

Last spring, Chris Dodd, ‘confined to barracks by coronavirus’, wrote three articles in a series called “Fixed Seat Reading” in which he discussed old and fairly new rowing books. There are many ‘goodies’ mentioned, so take a look at part I, part II and part III and be amazed. (There is a certain overlap in these articles with rowing books mentioned in today’s article and elsewhere on this website.)


  1. Goran,
    I think you could weave an article , or two, around ‘Photo’s of my Rowing bookcase.’ It looks as though you have a fair few titles there to wet the appetite.

    • Lionel,
      Instead of an article with photos of my rowing books, how about some moving pictures? My filmmaking-interested teenage daughter shot this one-minute “movie” late last spring. You will find the story of the “Rowing Room” in the description of this film, which previously has only been up on HTBS’s Instagram, but, as of now, is also available on HTBS’s YouTube channel. Enjoy!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.