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Book tip: "The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics"

Published July 04. 2013 4:00AM

Daniel James Brown

Viking

Rowers will appreciate this look at what the sport was like in the early 20th century, with accounts of how hugely popular rowing was as a spectator sport at the time and with portraits of iconic figures like boatbuilder George Pocock. But even non-crew fans will appreciate the way Brown sets up this story of a group of underdogs who fought their way to win the gold medal at the Olympics in 1936 - held in a Berlin that was under Adolf Hitler's rule. The author creates a vivid portrait of his main character, gutsy rower Joe Rantz, whose childhood was rough and tough - and that was even before his father and stepmother abandoned him at age 15, leaving him to fend for himself. But the author also frames everything in terms of history: Nazi Germany's rise; America's struggling economy; and the dramatic and dangerous dust storms that whipped the U.S. Local angle alert: There are a few fleeting mentions of the Yale-Harvard Regatta in New London - including an FDR trip to see his son row here.

- KRISTINA DORSEY

The Kiss of Spirit and Flesh

Leafblade

K-scope

It's about to be high summer, and the humidity's so ridiculous that breathing feels like eating fog. Consider, then, relaxing to the lilting, crisp and autumnal music of Leafblade, a collaboration between Anathema guitarist/producer Danny Cavanagh and poet/musician Sean Jude. The sounds and images are very pastoral and evocative of Ancient Times in the British Isles - the sort of material you'd associate with Fovea Hex, King Creosote, Marillion, the Pan-happy era of the Waterboys, or Sand Snowman. Feel free, as you listen, to pray to an antler'd stag-god of antiquity!

- RICK KOSTER

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