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Marathon Man (Babe Levy #1)

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  11,811 ratings  ·  199 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)
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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
Oct 07, 2013 Checkman rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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

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.
Patrice Hoffman
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
Jul 12, 2009 Peter rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
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
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
Jul 28, 2008 Nicholas rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Elisha Condie
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
May 03, 2014 Elizabeth rated it 4 of 5 stars
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

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
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
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.
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
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.
William Goldman is a fantastic author.

I did not really know much about the book going in, but it did not disappoint (and now I really want to watch the movie). The characters are pretty well fleshed out (maybe the main character a little too much so), and the suspense is tangible. I will say, I actually liked a few of the side characters quite a bit more than the main guy (he was a little whiny through most of it), but he improved as the book went on.

Without getting too spoiler-y, I can say I
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.
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
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
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
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
Robert Day
Awesome, intense, exciting, suspenseful and well written. This is a book that really get me rooting for the underdog turned hero that is the 'marathon man'. Very highly recommended.
Lisa Roney
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
Dan Trudeau
I bought Marathon Man about fifteen years ago at a used book store and it's been sitting on my shelf ever since. I'd seen, and enjoyed, the movie multiple times, so it was never a priority read. A week ago I decided I was either going to read the book or pass it along, so I opted to read it.

The greatest compliment I can give the book is that I always knew what was going to happen next and was still completely engrossed in it. Their are characters that flirt with becoming cliches, but Goldman is
A fun action/violence fantasy.

Skinny, professional student, antihero mysteriously pursued by serious business bad guys led by an evil genius, probably insane, sadist. Add assorted professional assassins who can kill with one blow from either hand and you have an exciting, campy chase with action and horror. I actually enjoyed all the comic book-type characters; but not so much the mood disrupting humorous asides.

You can tell this was written with a celluloid version in mind.
Don Gorman
A real classic. If it wasn't so loose in the first several chapters and somewhat confusing until the last third it would have been 5 stars. A great action story where an innocent gets caught up in circumstances he had no control over. A wild ride. After reading this, I just can't imagine how they picked Dustin Hoffman for the part in the movie but it obviously worked out for all involved. This is a book that is a must read if you are a mystery/thriller fan, it is one of the blueprints. 4 1/2 sta ...more
Dennis D.
Jun 09, 2009 Dennis D. rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Dennis D. by: author Gary Carden
This is one of those stories that starts out with multiple plotlines that are seemingly unrelated, but which eventually converge. In Brooklyn, two old men (significantly, a German and a Jew) are involved in a traffic-related altercation, which first escalates to road rage, and then culminates in a fiery accident. Meanwhile, across the globe, things unravel for the spy (assassin?) Scylla, as his contacts are apparently compromised and an attempt is made on his life. Lastly, we meet the marathon m ...more
Paul Lyons
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Years ago I saw the movie version of _Marathon Man_ so I thought it might be fun to read the book, especially since William Goldman was the author and he also wrote _The Princess Bride_ which I loved. But, even with all that background, I was still not prepared for how great _Marathon Man_ truly is. Its absolutely essential for a thriller to have characters that the reader cares about, without some emotional investment on the reader's part there won't be any heart-pounding suspense. Goldman deli ...more
Anthony Eskridge
I enjoyed reading Marathon Man by William Goldman, but I will admit, there were some strange aspects about the story. The story is filled with many moments of intense thrill and suspense. What was so great about the book was its intense attention to detail and descriptions. The book would literally not be the same without it. That is a sign of good literature. Good details help to paint the image in the author’s head into our minds.
I have never read his other famous book, The Princess Bride, bu
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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

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“What kind of human person has a favorite eraser?” 50 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.” 7 likes
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