- Author David Livingston
They mentioned this book during the Boat Race coverage this year, and I knew I wanted to read it. How often do two brothers race on opposite sides of the river, and finish just one foot apart? Well, the brothers thing hadn’t happened for 100 years before the events in the book, so that tells us something.
The writing here is not magnificent. It’s not detailed or flowing, but it doesn’t have to be. That’s not what they’re writing it for. What we learn from reading the book is just how much incredible effort goes in to preparing for the Boat Race and how much it really means for everyone involved. You get a sense of that from watching it on TV, or maybe even from seeing it in person, but to hear it from the horse’s mouth (so to speak) is amazing.
They train all the time, at the expense of their studies, their relationships, even their own health. The state they are in once they climb out of the boat at the end of the race, needing oxygen and being loaded into the back of ambulances, is a testament to how hard they push themselves.
Add on top of that the pressure of competing against your brother, of having to see him as the enemy. Well, it’s quite an emotional book. If I have one complaint, it is that I would have liked to read more of the aftermath, how they managed to rebuild their relationship. Perhaps that is too personal to share, I don’t know. If you’re not a fan of the Boat Race, don’t read this book. It’s all about rowing, obviously, and by the end it was starting to get a bit repetitive (as I’m sure it was in real life). However, if you are a fan, you must read it. It gives such insight that I don’t think you could get without rowing the race yourself.