The Columns

Author Daniel James Brown to Give the Keynote Address at the Tom Wolfe Weekend Seminar at Washington and Lee University

— by on April 13th, 2016

Daniel James Brown, author of the New York Times bestseller “The Boys in the Boat,” will present the keynote address at Washington and Lee University’s Tom Wolfe Weekend Seminar “Finding Gold in the Oar: Crafting History in ‘The Boys in the Boat,’” on April 22, at 4:15 p.m. in Lee Chapel.

The title of Brown’s talk is “The Art of Nonfiction in ‘The Boys in the Boat.’” It is free and open to the public.

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Since reaching No. 1 on the New York Times Bestseller List in 2014, The Boys in the Boat,” sustained its popularity by remaining there for 83 weeks. The book remains No. 1 in paperback nonfiction.

“The Boys in the Boat” celebrated the 1936 U.S. men’s Olympic eight-oar rowing team—nine working class boys from the University of Washington who raced their way to competition in the Berlin Olympics.

The team managed to work together and sacrifice toward their goal of defeating Hitler’s feared racers, but that’s only half the story. The other half is as fascinating, as Brown tells about the team itself, the hardships they endured in training and home life, and Hitler’s Germany on the eve of World War II.

“For this nautical version of ‘Chariots of Fire,’ Brown crafts an evocative, cinematic prose…Brown makes his heroes’ struggles as fascinating as the best Olympic sagas,” according to Publishers Weekly.

Brown is also the author of “The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride” (2009) and “Under a Flaming Sky: The Great Hinckley Firestorm of 1894” (2006). Before writing narrative non-fiction books about historical events (such as “The Boys in the Boat”), Brown was a technical writer and editor. He also taught writing at San Jose State University and Stanford University.

The annual Tom Wolfe Weekend Seminar is sponsored by Washington and Lee’s Class of 1951 in honor of its classmate, Tom Wolfe, who will be in attendance and will offer remarks.