True Blue: The Oxford Boat Race Mutiny

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True Blue: The Oxford Boat Race Mutiny
Book cover featuring a photograph of a dark blue rowing blade
Paperback cover
Author Dan Topolski and Patrick Robinson
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Non-fiction
Publisher Bantam Books
Publication date
Media type Print (hardcover and paperback)
Pages 320 pp.
ISBN 0-553-40003-7
OCLC 22003117

True Blue: The Oxford Boat Race Mutiny is a non-fiction book written by Dan Topolski and Patrick Robinson and published in 1989. It tells the story of the 1987 Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race and the disagreement amongst the Oxford crew known as the "Oxford mutiny".[1] It won the William Hill Sports Book of the Year in 1989, the award's inaugural year.

Topolski was Oxford's rowing coach, and the book describes his conflicts with the squad and principally five US international oarsmen who were enrolled that year at Oxford. Disagreements over training methods and crew selection ultimately led to the Americans leaving the crew shortly before the race. With a severely depleted crew, still suffering from the fall-out of the "mutiny", Oxford went on to beat Cambridge in the 1987 Boat Race.

Reception and other accounts[edit]

The book, and the "mutiny" itself, continue to divide rowers even 20 years afterwards. British Olympic champion oarsman Martin Cross describes the book as "... one of the most entertaining (if not wholly accurate) sports books ever written ...", and refers to its treatment of one of the American "mutineers", Chris Clark, in the following terms: "As character assassinations go, it is ruthless."[2]

Alison Gill, an Oxford oarswoman at the time of the "mutiny", wrote The Yanks at Oxford,[3] a book that attempted to counter the perceived bias in Topolski's account.

The Oxford University Boat Club president, Donald Macdonald, broke a 25-year silence to give his own account of the course of events in a 2012 newspaper interview.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Baker, Andrew (6 April 2007). "When mutineers hit the Thames". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 26 November 2012. 
  2. ^ Martin Cross, Olympic Obsession: The Inside Story of Britain's Most Successful Sport, ISBN 1-85983-233-4, pp 132-133
  3. ^ ISBN 0-86332-662-5
  4. ^ Harry Mount (6–7 April 2012). "True Blue Mutiny: Oxford University boat race captain reveals all about the savage feud with both Americans that tore team apart 25 years ago". Daily Mail. Retrieved 7 April 2012.