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One Book Northland reads ‘The Boys in the Boat’

Library Corner

By Mark King


The joint reading venture of area libraries that takes place each spring has a new name this year: One Book Northland. The new name reflects that several communities are working together in partnership. For the second year, the reading project has called upon the public to choose this year's book from several recommendations of the One Book committee. "The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics" by Daniel James Brown won the popular vote online and by paper ballot. The Cloquet, Duluth, Superior and Virginia public libraries are offering discussions, films, speakers, and other events between March 19 and May 21.

"The Boys in the Boat" is a non-fiction account of the U.S. rowing team in the 1936 Olympics hosted by Nazi Germany. German dictator Adolph Hitler believed the Olympic Games would demonstrate Arian supremacy to the world, but his hopes were undermined when U.S. runner Jesse Owens won four Olympic medals. The U.S. rowing team's success further deflated Hitler's monomania. "The Boys in the Boat" has been widely praised as an engaging and inspiring true-life account. The book vividly evokes the hardships of the Depression era and the ordinary lives of a team of young men who were determined to achieve the extraordinary.

Cloquet Public Library will host the first event, "When Duluth Rowers Were Invincible" at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, March 19. Michael Cochran, a competitive rower since 1967 and author of "Invincible: History of the Duluth Boat Club," will tell how Duluth's rowing team gained national fame and was unbeaten during four years of national competition in the early 1900s.

The Cloquet Library Reading Club welcomes all interested readers to discuss "The Boys in the Boat" at its March 21 meeting, and the program "What It Takes to Be an Olympian" will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 28. Also, two film screening will be held in the library's large meeting room. On Tuesday, March 29, the library will show the classic 1984 made-for-television movie "The Jesse Owens Story," and the following week, on Tuesday, April 5, the Oscar winning "Unbroken" will be shown. Both screenings begin at 6:30 p.m.

Following the success of the library's One Book music performance for "The Cellist of Sarajevo" in 2014, the library will again partner with the Presbyterian Church of Cloquet for a music event. Music director Jim Sheetz will produce "1930s Jazz!" performed by vocalist Kate Kulas at 1 p.m. Sunday, April 3, at the church. Kulas has performed with the Lyric Opera of the North and is a former music professor at UMD. She was music director of last year's production of "Les Miserables" in Duluth. Jazz music is a backdrop to several scenes in "The Boys in the Boat."

Many more events are planned at area libraries. A brochure providing further information is available at the library.