THE RED ROSE CREW by Daniel J. Boyne
Kirkus Star


A True Story of Women, Winning and the Water
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A thrilling account of the US women’s crew as it prepared to compete in the 1975 World Championships in rowing.

Journalist and rowing coach Boyne (Director of Recreational Rowing/Harvard Univ.) declares that “rowing helped pave the way for the current boom of female athletes.” He may be forgiven this venial hyperbole as he understandably finds himself caught up in the excitement of the remarkable accomplishments of the nine motley women who won a silver medal at the Championships, barely losing to an East German group of techno-athletes (see Dolph Lundgren in Rocky IV) groomed from the womb to row. The author limns appealing portraits of the most prominent personalities in the crew, including Carie Graves (whose father had been a national champion), elder stateswoman Gail Pierson (along for her last hurrah), the fierce overachiever Chris Ernst (nearly a foot shorter than some of her teammates), and little Lynn Silliman, the 16-year-old coxswain who, like all who excel in her role, became the team’s “collective spirit.” Coaching the women was Harvard men’s crew coach Harry Parker, who had introduced a “new way of rowing” in the US and whose teams had dominated competitions for years. Unaccountably, he was not appointed the men’s Olympic coach and instead accepted the less-prestigious women’s assignment. Over time he manages to forge a strong bond with the women, who have initial difficulties adjusting to his laconic style. Boyne can stretch a simile too far—as when he elects to observe that rowers, like “Odysseus and his crew as they rowed past the sirens, . . . had to block out the alluring call of anything outside the boat.” Nonetheless, he understands rowing, racing, women athletes, coaching, and social history. His descriptions of races are stylish and stirring. A touching second epilogue reveals what has happened to each of the participants.

Sets the heart a-racing. (8 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Sept. 27th, 2000
ISBN: 0-7868-6622-5
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Hyperion
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2000