Blood Over Water, by David and James Livingston

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The Independent Culture

Winners or losers, yesterday's Boat Race participants will never forget the occasion, but few can have experienced such a tangle of emotions as James and David Livingston, two brothers who rowed against each other in 2003.

For James, the elder at 22, it was his last chance after two years of failing to get a seat in Cambridge's Blue Boat and one loss; for David, 19, it was his first appearance.

Other books, notably Dan Topolski's 'True Blue' and Mark de Rond's 'The Last Amateurs', chronicled the pressure and brutal training, but the element of sibling rivalry ratchets up the tension to unbearable levels as the brothers, always close and competitive, recall how their relationship was strained to breaking point.

David seems the more cold-hearted of the pair – "We are not brothers today, we are enemies" – but was quick to console James after Oxford held off the fast-finishing Cambridge crew to win by one foot.

This honest, articulate account is as enthralling as the race itself.

Published by Bloomsbury in paperback, £8.99