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Rated 4.20
70 ratings

Ranger Games

By: Ben Blum

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Imprint: Doubleday

Format: Hardcover | ISBN: 9780385538435

Other Formats:

Electronic | Compact Disc | Audiobook Download

On Sale: | Pages: 432

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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 U.S. 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.      
Ben Blum's story of an Army Ranger's involvement in a bank robbery is an uncompromising search for the truth and a stirring testament to the healing power of writing.... “Ranger Games” is a book that rewards a reader's patience. The book isn't straightforward reportage, but rather a chronicle of Ben Blum's search for the truth behind his cousin's baffling fall from grace.... “Ranger Games” is a rich and demanding exploration of the perils and rewards of truth seeking: It will repay successive readings with insight into the intricacies of the human psyche.
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
Ben Blum, a mathematical prodigy turned writer, regards his popular, athletic cousin with a certain awe. But what he learns of the Army's harsh basic training, designed to break recruits down and train them to kill, appalls him.... The main question with which he grapples in this finely written and reported (but overlong) memoir is why his law-abiding cousin chose to commit a criminal act.
—Chicago Tribune
"Ranger Games" is in part a family story, about the unlikely bond between two very different cousins. It is also a fascinating tutorial on the psychology of modern warfare and social coercion. Philip Zimbardo, who conducted the fabled Stanford prison experiment (it revealed just how cruel ordinary people could be, given the right alignment of circumstances) even comes to Alex's defense, going so far as to appear on "Dr. Phil" with him. The tragicomic chapters about this episode alone are worth the price of the book. I spun through them, the pages whipping by like an old-school Rolodex.... [A] memorable, novelistic account is what Blum has written.
—New York Times
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