In the midst of the standard, dreary midlife crisis -- complete with wine-tasting courses, yoga classes, and a failed attempt at a first novel -- forty-year-old Barry Strauss falls unexpectedly and passionately in love with rowing, a sport in which a twenty-seven-year-old is a has-been. Strauss, a professor of classics and history, 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 love 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 as far back as Little League suddenly finds himself bursting into athleticism at an unlikely age. From the awe-inspiring feats of the war-bound 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."
Barry Strauss, professor of history and classics at Cornell University, is a leading expert on ancient military history. He has written or edited several books, including The Battle of Salamis, The Trojan War, The Spartacus War, Masters of Command, The Death of Caesar, and Ten Caesars. Visit BarryStrauss.com.
Victor Davis Hanson, author of Who Killed Homer? Strauss's dogged pursuit of an ancient craft shows us how exhilarating -- and occasionally terrifying -- rowing, past and present, can be.
Jay Parini author of Benjamin's Crossing Sometimes a book takes you by surprise...Rowing Against the Current is written with such a wonderfully physical sense of this ancient sport. This is a story about remaking oneself in middle age; as such it overwhelmed me, as it will a large raft of readers. Bravo to Barry Strauss.