ROWING AGAINST THE CURRENT
Published: Apr 9 1999
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Strauss, a classics professor, writes about the unanticipated delights of an affair that, like so many others, begins as a casual dalliance and develops into a full-blown obsession. Drawn to the sport in part because of his affinity for Greek antiquity, he develops a hankering for old boathouses, a longing for rivers at dawn, a thirst to test himself, and ultimately a renewed sense of self-reliance -- as someone who had experienced sports humiliation back as far as Little League suddenly finds himself bursting into athleticism at an unlikely age.
From the awe-inspiring feats of the war-bound ancient Greek triremes with their crews of 172 men rowing on three levels, to the solitary pride of finishing a first race in which he gets stuck in the weeds and has to be fished out, Barry Strauss shows us why there is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- half as much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.