Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Marathon Man” as Want to Read:
Marathon Man
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Marathon Man (Babe Levy #1)

4.11  ·  Rating Details  ·  14,645 Ratings  ·  258 Reviews
Tom "Babe" Levy is a runner in every sense: racing tirelessly toward his goals of athletic and academic excellence--and endlessly away from the specter of his famous father's scandal-driven suicide. But an unexpected visit from his beloved older brother will set in motion a chain of events that plunge Babe into a vortex of terror, treachery, and murder--and force him into ...more
Paperback, U.K. Paperback Edition; Movie tie-in cover, 236 pages
Published 1976 by Pan (first published January 1st 1974)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Marathon Man, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Marathon Man

The Kite Runner by Khaled HosseiniPhantom Bigfoot Strikes Again by Simon OkillBorn to Run by Christopher McDougallForrest Gump by Winston GroomMeasure Twice by J.J. Hensley
13th out of 111 books — 141 voters
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. MaasThe Bourne Identity by Robert LudlumThe Day of the Jackal by Frederick ForsythThe Way of Shadows by Brent WeeksThe Godfather by Mario Puzo
Kickass Assassins
13th out of 71 books — 55 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
I honestly had no clue what Marathon Man was about before I started reading it. I started a book club when I moved to Seattle a year ago and each month we pick a new genre and roll with it. We picked thriller/suspense for January and then looked to see what the mostly highly shelved and rated books in the genre were and added a few to our poll. This won so I acquired it and jumped in. I think it made it quite a bit more fun having no clue what the story was about or where it was going (I haven’t ...more
Jan 31, 2015 Brian rated it really liked it
It is so nice when the right book opens at the right time; when you're fidgety and middle-seat suffering on a three hour flight and nothing but a ripping yarn will salve that claustrophobia. Take me away, Calgon Marathon Man!

I knew that Dustin Hoffman starred in the movie adaptation of this novel, but my knowledge of the story ended there. I am a complete babe in the woods when it comes to thrillers - friends familiar with the genre would probably have seen all the twists coming twenty pages ahe
May 12, 2013 Algernon rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013

William Goldman entered on my favorite authors list based on a single book : The Princess Bride . This second book I've tackled is a completely different kettle of fish : a conspiracy theory thriller, but in its own special way it is just as accomplished and memorable as the fantasy one. I would say that if Princess Bride is a fantasy fairytale for those who don't usually read fantasy books, Marathon Man is a high octane thriller for those who don't normally read spy and conspiracy books.
Oct 07, 2013 Checkman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: paranoids, dentists
Recommended to Checkman by: Liked the movie. Wanted to read the book.
Okay it's the mid-seventies and times aren't so great in the United States. Watergate, Vietnam, recession, inflation, energy crises, oil embargo, dramatic increase in crime, Richard Nixon and Disco.

People were tired, wearing double-knit polyester leisure suits, angry, afraid (of everything) paranoid, and feeling spiritually bankrupt. So along comes William Goldman with Marathon Man . A grim, violent, paranoid thriller. People ate it up.

Looking at it thirty-five years later it's apparent that
Jul 12, 2009 Peter rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who likes thrillers
A classic thriller from the author of The Princess Bride.

In the late 1970s my father had a rather serious heart attack. Neighbors thoughtfully brought over books for him to read while he was bedridden. Naturally enough, they picked the bestsellers of that time. I'm not sure if Dad read all of them, but I did. Shogun, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and Marathon Man were among them.

By an odd coincidence, all of those books have ended up being lifetime favorites for me.

In many ways, Marathon Man is qui
An effective palate cleanser, thrilling and fast. It was made into a good movie. On the other hand, there is homophobia throughout the book, of the particulary insulting kind which associates Nazis with homosexuality. Goldman isn't blatant about it, he is clever enough to make it subtle. There are certain words dropped here and there. The name "Janey" is used without pronouns, leading the reader on, and then violently revealing it's two men who are in some kind of a mutually destructive intmate ...more
Patrice Hoffman
Apr 09, 2013 Patrice Hoffman rated it really liked it
After completing Marthon Man by William Goldman I am certain that I will read the sequel. This is the first novel I've read by Goldman. I hear ya, where's the rock I've been living under. Many people are familiar with the movie featuring Dustin Hoffman. Luckily I am not familiar with said movie but I do hope to be someday. The novel begins explosively with two men having an all out war through the use of their Chevy's and VW's. This accident leads to the death of both men and somehow, strangely ...more
Oct 19, 2012 El rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I talk about wanting to read a good conspiracy thriller, this is what I'm tawkin' 'bout. That Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy? So not on the same level of readability, enjoyment, interest, je ne sais quois of Marathon Man. (Certainly Goldman and Le Carre aren't on the same level, so don't go giving me a lot of shit for that comment, sheesh.)

I was looking for a light, quick, fun read and that's what I got. It's no secret that I loved The Princess Bride, I've seen that movie probably more than a
Jun 15, 2009 Andy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: when-i-was-a-boy
I had a (sort of) girlfriend for two weeks when I was on camping holiday in France when I was a teenager. When I say girlfriend, I think that's probably overstating it a bit. I just fancied her loads and she talked to me, which MUST have meant she fancied me, but she didn't want to say it. Anyway, she and her parents had to go back home about a week before we had to (nothing to do with me, mind)and I received this news with burning throat and eyes spiked with tears and testoterone (which must ha ...more
What a brilliant book! Excellently drawn characters; plot twists and turns; murder, suspense and betrayal.

I've seen the film adaptation a few times, but lastly some years ago, so I had the dual advantage of Dustin Hoffman and Laurence Olivier reprising their parts in my head (perfect casting) but couldn't clearly remember the plot, and got all the mystery, too.

The early chapters follow several seperate strands, building suspense because you KNOW that they are all connected. The way that Goldman
Elisha Condie
Nov 24, 2014 Elisha Condie rated it it was amazing
Ooooh! Ages and ages ago my Mom let me see this movie because it was about a Nazi in hiding who comes back and she knew I'd love it. And I did. And I loved the book. But I read them just long enough ago that I forgot a lot of the pertinent details, which was frankly pretty awesome for me. Because when I read it again I got to be surprised all over again by most of it.

The story starts out following a killer/spy as he moves through different countries. In other chapters the story follows Tom, a
Jul 28, 2008 Nicholas rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Nicholas by: Amanda
Freaking awesome. That's all there is to it. Goldman creates a classic tale of suspense and intrigue filled with Dentist Nazis and crooked spies that keeps you hooked until the end. But more than the intriguing plot, it's the characterization of Babe that makes this novel worth 5 stars. Babe is a completely believable genius narcissist (the best kind right?) who receives his real world education throughout the novel as he learns that the life he has built up since the death of his father was bui ...more
Asghar Abbas
May 21, 2016 Asghar Abbas rated it it was amazing


repeat this a million times.


haha, pure gold.

A dentist a torturer; or a torturer a dentist.

Will we ever know ?
Sep 19, 2007 Mark rated it liked it
I don't have a lot of memories of this book, except that the plot and the sense of suspense gripped me throughout, and that it was a creative way of looking at carryover from the Nazi past. And because I know Goldman is known for his ability to come up with one captivating scene, I don't think it's unfair to mention that the torture scene involving dental instruments is one of the most disturbing in all of fiction.
May 03, 2014 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: smart cats who are shy on the outside and strong on the inside
Shelves: 2014
Total mid-seventies spy thriller. It's a little groovy, peppered with current slang and takes place in NYC, the bulk of it near Columbia. There's a strong intellectual flair and the time honored battle of wits between Nazi and Jews too. Thomas "Babe" Levy is a historian studying at Columbia and he's troubled with family guilt which haunts him constantly. He also is training to run a marathon and that is what he chooses as his identity, hence the title of the book. He comes from a brilliant famil ...more
Jul 24, 2008 Amanda rated it it was amazing

This is one of the most intense thriller books I have ever read. The plot is so twisty and captivating, I resent the fact that I didn't read the book in just one go because I lost some of the momentum I had. William Goldman definitely knows how to build tension. He also knows how to make you cringe. The dental scene is pretty brutal. What's more is that you aren't just thinking about whether the thugs will catch up to Babe or what Szell's going to do to Babe, you're thinking what is Babe goi
Nov 30, 2015 Mike rated it liked it

Had a tooth extracted today. The process took about three hours, and was rather painful. In one of my moments of lucidity, I remembered the infamous dentistry torture scene from this book, which I last read in high school, for class. I remember liking the book; for a while, I thought William Golding and William Goldman were the same person.

Lisa Roney
Dec 27, 2014 Lisa Roney rated it liked it
This book was not at all what I was expecting. From the title and description, I thought it was a story about a runner (well, more about a runner than it actually ended up being). And since I'm running my first few marathon in a few weeks I thought "wow okay this will be a great inspritational read to get ready for my race"....yeah not at all. However, I will say that once I got into the story and realized that this book was going to involve absolutely no marathons, I did begin to enjoy it. The ...more
Jul 12, 2014 Chip rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery-thriller
A little dated, but still pretty good. Came across to me as a cross between Robert Cormier (e.g., I Am The Cheese) and a '70s spy thriller.
Jul 30, 2015 Stacy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have never seen this film. Years ago, I saw a movie called Terror in the Aisles, and in that film was the famous (and infamous) dentist scene. "Is it safe?" Who knew three such simple words could inspire such dread in a generation of humans? As it turns out, in future generations as well.

Yes, this book is dated! It's very much a product of its mid 70s time period, but I didn't care. It was brilliantly executed and surprisingly funny at times. I don't want to tell you too much, for fear of rui
Oct 13, 2012 Jeff rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. Written by William Goldman, the author of the Princess Bride, this was a great thriller that was translated by Goldman into a pretty good movie. Reading the intro, which I usually do not do, helped give me mental images of what the characters looked like when I was reading. While I usually don't like a movie script-type book, I enjoyed this thriller. I think the plot seemed somewhat creative to me as well. Plus, this was apparently the birth of the most "horrifying" d ...more
Sue Bridehead (A Pseudonym)
Liked, didn't love. It's a quick, easy read and very much of its time period. Though mine was a recent hardcover re-release with an intro by the author (a good intro detailing how he got into writing for Hollywood), this book really feels to me like a beat-up, pulpy paperback you'd carry on the subway. That's not a bad thing. A fun thriller that reads like a movie, which is how I came to know it originally. My mom was a big fan of this film when I was a kid. Fortunately, seeing it didn't turn me ...more
This was a very popular novel and movie back during the revolutionary war, or maybe it was just the 1970's. I would not have sought it out to read, but when a nice copy is looking up at you from a book rack in a thrift store and it cost only 25 cents your values change. I am very pleased with the investment. This mystery-spy novel was clever, fast moving and intricately bound together. There are no slow agonizing stretches of filler. Simply one of the better books that I have read recently.
Rebecca McNutt
Marathon Man wasn't at all what I was expecting, and it was well-written, interesting, vivid and unforgettable. William Goldman wrote two other novels I really liked, The Princess Bride and Magic, so it's great to find another of his stories with so much talent.
Robert Ronsson
Apr 16, 2015 Robert Ronsson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love the structure of this book and adopted it for my second novel Out of Such Darkness. Goldman starts it by introducing us to two characters in alternate chapters. They appear to have nothing in common - the settings are world's apart. Each story is compelling in its own way as the protagonists notice that their ordered lives are beginning to fray at the edges.
Then in a brilliant seven-word sentence, almost exactly half-way through the book, Goldman brings the two stories together in a catac
Oct 03, 2014 Estibaliz79 rated it it was ok
Me sonaba la película con Dustin Hoffman, pero ni media idea del argumento... como encima la edición de este libro de la biblioteca era más vieja que yo (y ya es decir), ni siquiera una breve sinopsis para orientarme un poco; en resumen, que el mayor reclamo era William Goldman (a punto estuve de echar mano a 'La Princesa Prometida' otra vez) y el tamaño ideal para el bolso.

El porqué del preámbulo está bastante claro. No me ha gustado demasiado, por no decir que más bien poco, probablemente porq
Eric Goebelbecker
Nov 18, 2015 Eric Goebelbecker rated it it was amazing
After watching the movie on a lazy Sunday afternoon I decided to finally read this book. I'm a big fan of William Goldman and went in with high expectations. They were met and surpassed.

Marathon Man paints a vivid picture of New York City with real characters. Goldman is a master at description and internal dialog. People come to life on the page with sometimes dark, sometimes hilarious a few times both kinds of thoughts.

Goldman was involved with both the movie and the book, so they largely mat
May 07, 2011 Donna rated it it was amazing
Read this in high school 30 years ago and never forgot the dental scene. Just read it again and loved it!! True thriller based on Nazi criminals still hiding and prospering from war crimes. Haunting,exciting,and hard to put down. Want to see the movie version next.
Nick Sotos
Aug 23, 2014 Nick Sotos rated it it was amazing
You know a writer is really good when he can cause from one genre to another and give you some really good books. Elmore Leonard is one who immediately comes to mind with mysteries/thrillers (Get Shorty) and westerns (Hombre) as well as Robert B. Parker with the Spenser novels and some of his great westerns. William Goldman has a similar talent. Marathon Man was a great thriller that was turned into he movie with Dustin Hoffman. Mr. Goldman writes an introduction for the Kindle version that I re ...more
John Norman
Mar 29, 2014 John Norman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm sick (since you asked: shingles) and I wanted something taught to read that wouldn't require a lot of effort. In a recent NY Times bit, Harlen Coben said that Marathon Man made a big impression on him. I'd seen the movie of course.

This is a remarkable yarn. What's crazy about it is its efficiency. There are surprises, but they are perfectly set up. In weaker thrillers, you hit the surprise but you don't feel prepared. For instance, a name may be introduced that you're supposed to recognize f
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Espionage Aficion...: Fritz Weaver Appreciation Thread 4 6 Jan 11, 2016 10:33AM  
Action/Adventure ...: Marathon Man by William Goldman 5 12 Nov 25, 2013 12:52AM  
LOST implication 1 25 Feb 16, 2008 12:06AM  
  • Six Days of the Condor
  • Moliere: A Biography
  • The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition (Peloponnesian War)
  • My Life As Author And Editor
  • The Mojo Collection: The Ultimate Music Companion
  • My Lai 4: A Report on the Massacre and Its Aftermath
  • Pushkin: A Biography
  • The Vanishing Newspaper: Saving Journalism in the Information Age
  • The Holy Barbarians
  • A Monetary History of the United States 1867-1960
  • Fail-Safe
  • The Eiger Sanction (Jonathan Hemlock, #1)
  • Selected Letters, 1913-1965
  • New Poems of Emily Dickinson
  • Swimming with Giants: My Encounters with Whales, Dolphins and Seals
  • Monsieur Proust
  • A Bolt from the Blue and Other Essays
  • Goldilocks & Three Bears: Bears Should Share!
Goldman grew up in a Jewish family in Highland Park, Illinois, a Chicago suburb, and obtained a BA degree at Oberlin College in 1952 and an MA degree at Columbia University in 1956.His brother was the late James Goldman, author and playwright.

William Goldman had published five novels and had three plays produced on Broadway before he began to write screenplays. Several of his novels he later used
More about William Goldman...

Other Books in the Series

Babe Levy (2 books)
  • Brothers

Share This Book

“What kind of human person has a favorite eraser?” 55 likes
“I don't know that you'll understand this, but once upon a time, long ago, I was a scholar and a marathon man, but that fella's gone now, dead I suppose, but I remember something he thought, which was that if you don't learn the mistakes of the past, you'll be doomed to repeat them. Well we've been making a mistake with people like you, because public trials are bullshit and executions are games for winners - all this time we should have been giving back pain. That's the real lesson. That's the loser's share, just pain, pure and simple, pain and torture, no hotshot lawyers running around trying to see that justice is done. I think we'd have a nice peaceful place here if all you warmakers knew you better not start something because if you lost, agony was just around the bend. That's what I'd like to give you. Agony. Not what you're suffering now. I mean a lifetime of it, 'cause that's the only degree of justice I think we're ready for down here yet, and I know any humanist might disagree with me too, but I don't think you will, because you had a lot to do with educating me, I'm like you now, except I'm better at it, because you're going to die and I've still got a long way to go.” 10 likes
More quotes…