Run with the Horsemen
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Run with the Horsemen

4.31 of 5 stars 4.31  ·  rating details  ·  1,727 ratings  ·  160 reviews
Porter Osborne Jr. is a precocious, sensitive, and rambunctious boy trying to make it through adolescence during the depression years. On a red-clay farm in Georgia he learns all there is to know about cotton chopping, hog killing, watermelon thumping, and mule handling. School provides a quick course in practical joking, schoolboy crushes, athletic glory, and clandestine...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published July 3rd 1984 by Penguin Books (first published 1982)
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To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellThe Help by Kathryn StockettThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark TwainFried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
Best Southern Literature
123rd out of 751 books — 1,827 voters
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40th out of 162 books — 324 voters


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Community Reviews

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Joey
Jun 27, 2007 Joey rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everybody
This trilogy is underrated. Porter Osbourne should go down as one of the classic characters not just in Southern Lit, but in literature in general.

The first book is as a good a rumination on adolescent male sexuality as Roth's "Portnoy's Complaint," and also examines race relations and generational distance in the agrarian early-20th century South. The second find Porter disillusioned with life and medical school, as well as losing his virginity to the unforgettable Vashti. The third sees him g...more
Lisa
I read this series when I was in my early teens, I believe. It recently popped back into my head, so I thought I'd see if I still enjoyed it. I think I appreciate it more now, because I can see the adult humor in it. Ferrol Sams uses such beautiful language to describe Georgia between Reconstruction and WWII, the relationships between the landowners and their dependents and the virtures of being Raised Right.

I found it fascinating that we do not find out our protagonist's name until page 65, bef...more
Teeliles
One of my favorite books, I've re-read this so many times I've lost count! By the author of Forrest Gump, Run With The Horsemen is the coming-of-age story of "Little Porter" Osbourne, the son of a Georgia farming family growing up during the Depression. The genteel, long-suffering mother (who strikes fear in the hearts of her husband and son with the words "I'm not mad, I'm just hurt"); the patrician lawyer father who the boy adores and lives to impress, even though aware of (and often teased fo...more
Jenn  Marx
Since I have moved to Georgia, I have been wanting to read a book that submerses me in the southern culture to help me acclamate. This book was given to me by a friend who grew up in the deep south that thought it would do the trick. It reminded me of A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN--but about a boy, set in the deep south, and not as tragic. I fell in love with this protagonist, the hired "colored-folk" that worked his pa's farms, and his flawed family. It was a delight of a book. So glad I read it.
Joseph Dorris
When I discovered Ferrol Sams', Run with the Horsemen, I could not understand why it had not been hailed as one of the best American novels of our time. It captures with brutal accuracy the Deep South at the onset of the Great Depression. It reveals the reality of the times and would be what one would see had he a time machine to travel back to these days. Porter Osborne, intelligent, humorous, and perceptive, yet, naïve, is the bridge between the cultures. I thoroughly enjoyed this book
Nancy
This book is set in the south in the same era as “To Kill a Mockingbird” and is both funny and poignant as it explores the relationship between the races through the eyes of the protagonist, Porter Osborne III, a bright, sensitive boy growing up on a farm in Georgia. It follows him from childhood to WWII, when he graduates from high school. The book is based on the author’s own boyhood in Fayette County. He published the book, his first, in 1982 at age 60.
brian dean
This is an great book on its own but I have just finished rereading "To Kill a Mockingbird" and I was interested in comparing the two books. Really, the big similarity is how they try to explain how white Southerners treated blacks during the depression. Both have a lot of "this is the culture, this is how it has always been done".

Although both books have a strong, educated father who is in the government, and both deal with the relationship of the children and their fathers, Run with the Horsem...more
George Bradford
Mar 22, 2008 George Bradford rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to George Bradford by: Scott
Shelves: southern-man
Run with the Horsemen is a wonderful book. It's a terrific story with a fascinating central character. And it captures all the aspects of life in rural Georgia during the Great Depression.

It took me a while to get into the story. The narrator writes in the past tense, refers to himself in the third person ("the boy" aka Porter Osborne, Jr.) and the sentences run long. But I adjusted to the prose and was rewarded for the effort. This first volume of Porter's life story spans from childhood throug...more
Tony Smith
Run with the Horsemen is a must read for any Southerner or anyone who has enjoyed To Kill a Mockingbird. One experiences of life in rural Georgia during the Great Depression and sees it from the eyes of a young boy.

I enjoyed every page and was sorry to come to its end. Ferrol Sams created a book that will likely be one of my all time favorites.
Peter
Jan 14, 2008 Peter rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Peter by: The author
This series is a must read for everyone who grew up in the South, moves to the South, loves a person from the South, or just needs to know what it means to be "Raised Right.

Turns out I met all the criteria save the first. I fell in love with the stories, the moods, the lessons, and what makes all of the above more precious than is seemed before.

This book is the hook of the trilogy - it's impossible not to love the story of the boy growing toward manhood. If you had the pleasure to meet Ferrol Sa...more
Elaine
One of the most underrated coming-of-age stories ever. This autobiographical trilogy, beginning with Run with the Horsemen, chronicles the life of Porter Osborne from his childhood in rural Georgia through medical school at Emory during World War II.

Run with the Horsemen, the first book, chronicles Porter's childhood on the Georgia farm. It is a can't miss read. Porter is a latter-day Tom Sawyer, and his adventures are just as good. I know that's heresy, but there it is.
Gill
Jul 18, 2009 Gill rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Gill by: Donette
I found this slow-going at first, and found difficulty in knowing who was the central character, and would have given it 2 stars. By a third of the way through I was involved with the main character and his dilemmas and life, it was making 3 stars. By the end of the book I was thoroughly convinced and found the conclusion strong and thought-provoking, and a 5-star finish. I shall read more by Ferrol Sams in the future and appreciate Donette's recommendation.
Lyn
The boy is endearing, precocious, funny, and at the same time forever trying to measure up to his father's expectations. A must-read series if you love Southern coming-of-age. Incidentally, I have attended a couple of book-signings by Ferrol Sams, and the man is amazing. He's not a quick scribbler, but actually spends a half-minute or so talking to each reader, then...BAM! writes a perfect line or two in your book, like he's known you forever. Snap!
Becky
This was an interesting book about a boy in the rural South between WWI and WWII. The African American people are no longer in slavery but many continued to work on the farms where their ancestors had been in slavery. They were good, even best, friends with the main character. The main character tried really hard to do well in school and overcome the fact that he was one of the smallest students in the entire school.

The author, almost throughout, referred to the main character as 'the boy'. Per...more
Stan Crader
This glimpse at rural America will have you in stitches. I suspect the story is thematically biographical but there's no way to know. Sams' description of a young boy's daily adventure makes one long for the days of youth. Sams' posseses possibly the best vocabularly of any author I've read. And his creative use of seldom used adjectives is a real treat for the mind.
Aunt
One of the best "coming of age" books I've read (and i've read a few). Funny, poignant, sad...all set in the depression-era south on a sharecropping farm. I liked the third-person voice (referring to our protagonist as "the boy") and the honest references to sometimes taboo subjects. Can't wait to read the second book ... and the third...
Gary
One of my all-time favorite books...Southern storytelling at its best.

This is the first in a semi-autobiographical trilogy that follows the life and exploits of the main character, Porter Osborne jr. (Sambo). Also don't miss.

2) The Whisper of the River

3) When All the World Was Young
Karlyn
Ferrol Sams, where have you been all of my life? Run With the Horsemen vivaciously brought to life the daily happenings of a small southern town during the 1920s and 1930s. Accessibly-written, nuanced, scathing, scandalous, and hilarious. Rarely has reading a novel been such a pure delight.
Melissa
This is one of the most unique and enjoyable books I've read in a long time. I tend to read many formulaic thrillers and this is a very different kind of book - long and slow with little bits of sped-up action and suspense sprinkled throughout. The descriptions of Southern culture and the Georgia landscape were lush, the dialogue believable and realistic, the various adventures of "the boy" fun to tag along on... which is why the end of this book is so disconcerting. I finished the book right af...more
Carol
Love everything written by Ferrol Sams. This is the first of three about Porter Osborne, Jr. and his coming of age in the South during the Depression.
valpal
I might be a bit prejudiced because I know Dr. Sams personally but I thought this book was wonderful!
Kim Justice
I just love this whole trilogy-- I love watching the main character grow up and figure out life.
Melissa
I didn't want this book to end
Felicia
One of my top ten all time favorites.
Connor Winn
Southern fiction at its finest.
Jessica
Aug 04, 2014 Jessica rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Jessica by: Kate
I enjoyed this book much more than I ever thought I would. I'm even tempted to give it a 5 stars. Mr. Sams is a very eloquent writer and I found myself re-reading sentences that I thought were well written. I don't often do that. I wouldn't have thought that I would have liked a story about a mischievous boy growing up on a farm in the South...but I did. There were soooo many things I liked, the way he looked up and down to his dad, the clever way he dealt with situations...like going to the Edu...more
Jeffrey
The strength of this book is the author's treatment of the relationship between father and son. Their strengths and weaknesses are played out wonderfully throughout the story. The reason I'm giving the book 3 stars is because I didn't like how much of it was written with the characters identified by such impersonal tags, as the boy, the father, the grandfather, etc. At one point, I honestly wondered if I was going to get names to the individual characters. I didn't like how the dialog was writte...more
Book Concierge
3.5***

This is a semi-autobiographical novel detailing the coming of age of a young boy – the scion of a well-to-do cotton farmer in rural George, during the Depression. The Boy is the only son of a refined and long-suffering mother and an alcoholic, politically connected father. He is smart and resourceful, but confused about much of the information that he gathers by eavesdropping on the adults on and around the farm. He frequently feels alone, in part because he has only sisters, but also bec...more
Miles Kehoe
Nov 14, 2012 Miles Kehoe rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who wants an entertaining book
Recommended to Miles by: Gibbons Burke
This is the frist in a semi-autobiographical trilogy about a boy growing up in rural Georgia during the Great Depression. It is hard to get into because the writer uses the language and stream of consciousness of a young child expressing his earliest memories.. get through that and you'll find a writer with a deep, rich vocabulary and quite a sense of humor. This first book takes 'the boy' from earliest memories of 'the Mother', 'the Grandmother' and 'the Father' all the way through to the end o...more
Melanie
Jun 25, 2012 Melanie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Melanie by: Jeffrey
I'm not entirely sure exactly at which point I began to love this book. It's just a series of stories - with a slightly unsatisfying end - about a boy growing up on a farm in Georgia during the depression. That's it. Just...stuff that happens to him, troubles he faces (and gets himself into) and him growing up.

But I do know why I love it. It is, I think, pretty much entirely because of the character of Porter Osbourne Jr. - most commonly referred to in the narrative simply as 'the boy'. He is de...more
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“He's a good boy, he takes instruction well; I just can't think of enough things to tell him not to do.” 5 likes
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