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Publisher's Summary

Intricate, heartrending, and morally urgent, Ranger Games is a crime story like no other.

Alex Blum was a good kid, a popular high school hockey star from a tight-knit Colorado family. He had one goal in life: endure a brutally difficult selection program, become a US Army Ranger, and fight terrorists for his country. He poured everything into achieving his dream. In the first hours of his final leave before deployment to Iraq, Alex was supposed to fly home to see his family and beloved girlfriend. Instead, he got into his car with two fellow soldiers and two strangers, drove to a local bank in Tacoma, and committed armed robbery....

The question that haunted the entire Blum family was: Why? Why would he ruin his life in such a spectacularly foolish way?

At first, Alex insisted he thought the robbery was just another exercise in the famously daunting Ranger program. His attorney presented a case based on the theory that the Ranger indoctrination mirrored that of a cult.

In the midst of his own personal crisis, and in the hopes of helping both Alex and his splintering family cope, Ben Blum, Alex's first cousin, delved into these mysteries, growing closer to Alex in the process. As he probed further, Ben began to question not only Alex but the influence of his superior, Luke Elliot Sommer, the man who planned the robbery. A charismatic combat veteran, Sommer's manipulative tendencies combined with a magnetic personality pulled Ben into a relationship that put his loyalties to the test.

©2017 Ben Blum (P)2017 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"On a simple level, Ranger Games is about Ben Blum's obsessive quest to understand why his 19-year-old cousin participated in an inexplicable, ham-handed bank robbery that landed him in prison and nearly destroyed the people he loved. But there is nothing simple about Blum's book. It turns out to be a labyrinthine, utterly engrossing meditation on matters as seemingly disparate as the perils of loyalty, the seductive force of mathematical certainty, the toxicity of 'honor', the Stanford Prison Experiment, the weirdness of daytime television, and the dangerous power of family mythology. It is an astonishing book, unlike anything else I have ever read." (Jon Krakauer, New York Times best-selling author of Missoula and Into Thin Air)
"Ranger Games is a rare and totally original work of nonfiction. The odd characters and dangerous situations live vibrantly in these pages and the stakes are always high. Ben Blum's search for truth leads him down many paths into an inner turmoil and boil about family, fidelity, identity, good and evil, and military service. Once you start reading you won't put it down." (Anthony Swofford, New York Times best-selling author of Jarhead and Hotels, Hospitals, and Jails: A Memoir)
"Ben Blum's achievement in this relentlessly gripping book is to make an incredible story entirely credible. If many of the serial revelations and twists are subtle and nuanced rather than spectacular that only adds to the sense of his narrative command and assurance." (Geoff Dyer, National Book Critics Circle Award Winner and author of Otherwise Known as the Human Condition and White Sands)

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Average Customer Ratings

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Real Life Crime Drama

Ben Blum struggled with his familial duty to stand by his cousin and his scientific mind's need to know all the root causes and details. As he digs, he shares his feelings and the effects of the events on family. I love how well he writes and how he relays all the information as he learns it, bit by bit.

The voice actor was great, for the most part. He shouted too much; yes, the text was emotional, but that doesn't have to mean yelling. Loved his range of accents and tones.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Ranger Games Too Long and A Wearisome Book To List

Ranger Games received a pretty good review in the New York Times, so I thought it might be worth listening to but after many days of listening to the narrator, Jonathan McClain, I wished I had returned it! While I found parts of the book to be very moving and now have a much greater appreciation of the brutal training the soldiers have to go through to become Rangers, I felt the book suffered from not being properly edited. I thought it was a few hours too long and felt that Ben Blum could have had a much better book, if it wasn't so tedious to listen to. If it was a hard cover book, I would have jumped to the end of the book to see how it ends!

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Good book but a bit hard to get through

This is a good book but as I mentioned in the title it is hard at times to get through. The writer is so thorough that there are times where he could have kept the story flowing but instead he got off onto very detailed and long tangents that I don’t think at times helped the story. I respect the effort, but at times way over done, just TMI.
The story is an interesting, sad & crazy tale but there are times you can see that he (the writer) has his own issues to work out, not just his cousins, what his cousin did or his families take on the world.
If you have an affiliation or interest in/with growing up in Colorado, playing on hockey teams while growing up or the military, then I think you’ll enjoy this book. If I had to pay full price for this audiobook an not had a credit to use, I would not of been very happy, but because I had available credits and I was looking for something new and different, this hit the mark..... mostly.

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You'll think it's over long before it is

You may want it to be over or not. I went back and forth. interesting enough to finish but kind of a let down really.

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  • TAG P.
  • South Carolina, US
  • 10-09-17

Wow! Amazing everything

This story had great content, research, development, story line, author, reader, it was spot on in every way! And this is a first time author! I’m excited for his next book! Way to go #benblum

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Whining and Lying Former Ranger

I thought this book was above average. It became a little melodramatic at times but I was okay with that. I thought the main character, Alex Blum was more of a spoiled brat who lies to save himself from a well deserved and long prison term, grew tiresome. That is probably why the writer moved more to the wack job Sommer. I would recommend the book. It was entertaining to read how the privilege d burn through money to save their little darlings from the grasps of justice.

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what a story!

I loved this new author's story telling style. The passion for which he tells his cousin's story draws in the listener and inspires both empathy and dismay. Excellent investigative reporting with the raw emotion of a close relationship to the main subject. Wonderful and insightful book.

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Interesting true story

Not what I expected but a interesting story for sure! The experience and mental games played were intriguing.

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Don't waste your time with this book!

I wanted to stop listening to this book almost from the very beginning, but I thought I would listen to all of it so that I gave it every opportunity to show some value. The book never did show any value at all for me!
This book is written by a liberal cupcake that spends 13 plus hours blabbering on about his dysfunctional family, while disrespecting the US Military and the President of the United States. Overall, this book is a waste of time!

4 of 14 people found this review helpful

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girl games wow

Ranger games is both heartbreaking and physically uplifting. it is a while story that is true. I am glad the book worked out as it did for all who were concerned. I recommend this book to anyone that considers robbing a bank.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful