Daniel James Brown grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and attended Diablo Valley College, the University of California at Berkeley, and UCLA. He taught writing at San Jose State University and Stanford before becoming a technical writer and editor.
Brown now writes narrative nonfiction books full time. His primary interest as a writer is in bringing compelling historical events to life as vividly and accurately as possible.
Brown lives in the country outside of Seattle, Washington with his wife, two daughters, and an assortment of cats, dogs, chickens, and honeybees. When he is not writing, he is likely to be birding, gardening, fly fishing, reading American history, or chasing bears away from the bee hives.
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A Conversation With Daniel James Brown about The Boys in the Boat
Q. How did you discover the story that became The Boys in the Boat?
A: One day about six years ago, my neighbor, a lady in her midsixties whom I knew only as Judy, came up to me after a homeowners' association meeting. She said her father, who was in the last weeks of his life and under hospice care at her house, was reading one of my earlier books. He was enjoying it and she wondered if I would come by to meet him. Of course I said yes. A few days later I sat down with her father, Joe Rantz, and after a while the conversation turned first to his experiences growing up during the Great Depression and then to his experiences rowing for a gold medal at the 1936 Olympics.
As I talked with Joe, I noted that tears came readily to his eyes at certain junctures. Men of his generation don't generally cry easily, so I knew immediately that there was something extraordinary going on. As he unfolded more of his story to me, I began to see that all the elements of a great tale were thereintense competition among individuals, bitter rivalries between schools, a boy left alone in the world, a fiercely demanding coach, a wise mentor, a ...
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