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The Eleventh Man (Two Medicine Country #8)

3.45 of 5 stars 3.45  ·  rating details  ·  1,012 ratings  ·  217 reviews
Driven by the memory of a fallen teammate, TSU’s 1941 starting lineup went down as legend in Montana football history, charging through the season undefeated. Two years later, the "Supreme Team" is caught up in World War II. Ten of them are scattered around the globe in the war’s various lonely and dangerous theaters. The eleventh man, Ben Reinking, has been plucked from p ...more
Hardcover, 406 pages
Published October 13th 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published September 4th 2008)
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"Sure, you could believe for all you were worth that you were too young and fit and lucky to be chased down by death, but all of accumulated history yawns back, 'Why not you?'" — from "The Eleventh Man"

Ivan Doig's previous novel, the terrific "The Whistling Season" (2006) casts a long shadow, and "The Eleventh Man" never escapes from it to soak up some sun, but that doesn't make this World War II tale a bad one. It's Doig, so of course it's good. In the "The Eleventh Man" the starting 11 from a
Sometimes, I know exactly how I'll review a book and can hardly wait to get my thoughts down. Other times, like, this time in particular, a book is so lost in that foggy middle between good and bad, that my thoughts never seem articulate. I've avoided writing about The Eleventh Man, by Ivan Doig, for over a month now. I've got eight books dammed up behind it, waiting their turn for review.

I grew up looking at Ivan Doig titles in my parent's living room. Surprisingly, it wasn't until a few years
This World War II novel is set in the late (he died today) Ivan Doig's fictional Gros Ventre, Montana community; the location and characters appear in other novels like *Bartender's Tale*. The novel's premise is that all eleven members of a football team that won a championship in 1941 volunteer for service in the war. Ben Reinking, the central POV character, and captain of the team, goes to flight school for the AAF but then is assigned as a war correspondent who will follow the angle of report ...more
Once again, one of my favorite authors uses his considerable skills to craft together a story unlike others he has written. This tale follows a group of young men off to war as told by one of their team members - the Eleventh Man. This book has a haunting about it as each man's story is unfolding, connecting past with present where there is no future!
Often as one reads they hope for a different outcome, we are even given glimpses of what they might be, but alas the author has a different meanin
Sandy T
After absolutely loving The Whistling Season, I was anxious to read Ivan Doig's latest book. It sounded interesting: After a championship season in the 1940's, eleven college football players enlist in the service following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. One of them is chosen to be a war correspondent and is assigned to follow the stories of each of his teammates throughout the war.
I almost quit this book I don't know how many times. I just kept thinking it was a dud. Too much war and football--su
The Eleventh Man, by Ivan Doig (finalist for 1979 National Book Award and nominee for 2008 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award), was heartbreaking. Mr. Doig tells the (fictional) story of the eleven starting members of the 1941-season undefeated football team of the (fictional) Treasure State University of Montana. Each and every one of them volunteered for service in WWII in some form or another, and the best writer among them, Ben Reinking, is plucked from his pilot duty to become war pr ...more
Suzanne Vincent
Very nice writing, but it just didn't suck me in. I did not finish it.

I mean, it starts with a bus ride in which the main character spends the entire time musing. And while I'm on this bus with him, I'm thinking of all the things I could be doing on a long bus ride OTHER than musing.

Not a good start.

I gave it about 40 pages. That's all I could do. Every time I looked at the book I'd think of something else I'd rather be or should be doing.

Not a good sign.

I chalk it up to a lack of in-depth char
Ivan Doig must be one of Montana's better kept secrets. This Floridian had not heard of him until his Montana bred and born daughter in law wrote a memorial on the occasion of Doig's recent death. When I saw this WW II mostly-set-in-Montana novel on the shelf, I checked it out.
Ben Reinking, a journalist who was a member of a championship "Treasure State University" football team is pulled out of pilot training and reluctantly assigned to follow the WW II experiences of his former teammates in
Jim Krotzman
After the football players at Treasure State University in Montana win the college national championship and graduate, they all enlist into the military to fight in WWII. Ben Reinking's job is to write stories and in some cases obituaries of the 11 starters on the championship team. The premise of someone in US military keeping track of 11 football players is weak.

The novel has engaging conflicts and adequate action. The characters Ben, his girlfriend Cassie, who is married to a soldier, and Ice
Football hero tracks 10 teammates through service during World War II. Doig is a masterful story-teller. I don't often enjoy books written by men but Doig is an exception as is Wallace Stegner. I'll ready anything they wrote. I'm reading this one aloud to John while we travel so it will take awhile to finish . . .
The amount of time it takes me to read a book is often an indicator of how much I enjoyed the book (especially taken in conjunction with the length). It would have been interesting to have plotted my progress every few days as this book would have shown very slow progress over the first three weeks and then rapid progress during the last week. Something in the story finally clicked and it stopped being slow and deliberate and became interesting and worth the time/effort.

Overtly a story about a f
Laura Walker
Ivan Doig has a wonderful command of The English language, but I did not find this book as interesting or thoughtful as the works set in Montana. This book tells the story of a football hero who volunteers for the military and ends up assigned to write stories about his fellow team mates. There is a love interest, some stories about his relationship with his father, who is also a newspaperman, and a visit to the glory days on the football team and a player who died during high school. A few plot ...more
Rich Andriole
Three and a half stars.

Ben Reinking is an Army pilot in World War Two who gets dragooned into writing for the Threshold Press War Project, a military journalism outfit, before he is able to fly one mission. His assignment is to track down and write stories on his 10 other teammates from the glorious undefeated 1941 Treasure State University football team. Odds are, all of them but one will survive the war. Ben finds out that odds are not on his teammates' side.

One of my favorite books from last
Gordon Paisley
I really went back and forth on this one wondering what I really thought. The thing that really saved it from being just a three-star rating was when I reflected on his relationship with Cass Standish after reading it.

Mild spoilers may follow.....

The further our hero progresses in the story, the more cynical he becomes about the mission he has been called on to do--follow the story of his teammates from college football as they do their separate things in the War. The more he thinks about it, t
Steven Howes
Ivan Doig's books always seem to end too quickly for me. They are so well-written and the characters are so real, it is sometimes hard to believe I am reading a work of fiction. This one is no exception. It is the story of an Army Air Corps officer assigned to document the military experiences of members of an undefeated Montana university football team (of which he was also a member) during World War II. He is assigned to focus on each team member in a specific order which leads him to various ...more
Ben, the hero of this World War II drama, was a member of a Montana college football team that went undefeated in 1941. Because his father is a small town newspaper editor, he is plucked from pilot training to become a military reporter at the service of a shadowy but all-powerful propaganda outfit. His assignment is to write profiles in courage of all the other team members, now fighting the war in different theaters.

Ben also falls in love with Cass, the hard-bitten female pilot who is helping
Paul Aslanian
This is my favorite genre: historically accurate fiction. This is a story about a Montana College (I think it is Bozeman) football team that goes undefeated for two years winning a couple of national div II?? championships. Then after the 1941 season the entire team, after Pearl Harbor joins the service. The story is told through one of the ream members who father owned and printed the local newspaper. The kid grew up around the news writing business and was gifted in this area.

The 10 other guys
Jo Deurbrouck
Doig's 'This House of Sky' went off in my brain like a bomb some twenty-five years ago. Back then I didn't think I liked nonfiction. It was boring. And memoir equalled biography equalled 'shit you have to read in school.' And I especially didn't know that nonfiction prose could be as sculpted and lovely as poetry.

So 'The Eleventh Man' had a tough act to follow for me. As a writer of fiction Doig has never knocked my socks off. It has always felt to me as though he doesn't quite know how to get h
Since the publication of his beautiful memoir of growing up in Montana, The House of Sky (1979), Ivan Doig has been hailed as a great Western writer. That reputation was burnished by the publication of his marvelous Montana trilogy, English Creek (1984), Dancing at the Rascal Fair (1987) and Ride With Me, Mariah Montana (1990), which masterfully portrays the lives of four generations of the McCaskill family in Two Medicine country, Doig's lovingly invented landscape near the Rockies in Montana.

Barbara Boudreau
I read Ivan Doig when I was living in Montana in my former life. It is especially attractive reading if you have lived there - her often refers to towns and features that are well-known, so for me, it is a blast from the past. This book was a audio book for me. I drive a LOT for work, so listening to books is a great use of my time. This one was OK. I'm intending to use Stephen King's suggested book list from "On Writing," but my selection is limited at our library in Gloucester.
Pam Foster
I couldn't finish this although I gave it a good one hundred pages. If I didn't know better, I would have said that Ivan Doig didn't write this - it wandered, was disjointed, I had difficulty following whatever plot line there was. The characters didn't grow.
I have always counted Doig's works among my favorites - Dancing at the Rascal Fair, Whistling Season - just terrific stories of Montana and the characters who inhabited the country.
This was a big disappointment.
1941: Ben Reinking leads his college football team in a winning season in honor of a fallen teammate. 1943: All eleven men from the team have joined the service, and Ben has been assigned to profile each of them throughout the war for a propaganda series - but some of these stories don't lend themselves well to cheerful morale boosters. I liked the storyline enough to forgive the author for the silly wire conversations Ben has with his superiors.
Deon Stonehouse
The Eleventh Man centers on the members of an undefeated Montana college football team. They end up in different branches of the service.. Ben is plucked out of the fighting by the war department to follow the exploits of his teammates. TPWP, the propaganda machine for WWII, thinks it would be a fine idea to release stories about the legendary undefeated teammates. Ben is the most qualified to write the series, his Dad is a newspaperman. He zips around the globe from the Washington coast to Guam ...more
Linda Prieskorn
I loved every word. Ben, the main character, has been given what he feels is a cowards assignment in WWII. Yanked out of pilots training days before earning his wings he is assigned to communications. His college football team had won national acclaim and at the onset of the war every member volunteered for service. Ben has been given the task of writing about each one of them and their assignments as the war progresses. The war stories he writes are entwined with football team lore and personal ...more
This is the latest novel by one of my favorite writers, Ivan Doig. He writes out of Seattle, but -- as an author -- is a Montana man. That is where his heart remains. This novel involves Montana, but unfolds in Europe and the South Pacific during World War II. The protagonist is a journalist.

Candidly, at page 55 I laid this book aside as not suiting my fancy, but picked it up again a couple of days later and wondered why I had not enjoyed it. It was headlong reading from that point on, and by t
I'm tempted by a 2.5, but not sure it's as low as a 2.

The key issue in the book, Why small population, Western states make the largest human sacrifices in wartime, might have been powerfully handled. And, Doig backs away. So, what might have been powerful, ends up weak.

Also, to rename places I know well, like CMR, Malmstrom, and other Great Falls locations, and turn them to imitations which are not particularly different, just changed in the most minor way, didn't work. I was very distracted b
Maddy Hutter
I am usually an admirer of Ivan Doig's writing and there's not much wrong with the sentences in this book, but I just couldn't get excited about the characters or the premise. An entire high school football team signs up to serve its country in WW2 and one team member follows the stories of his friends. It is hard to say quite what didn't work for me except to say it was dull. Oh dear.
This book has an interesting premise, but I'm finding it a bit of a challenge to keep reading. Ivan Doig is one of my favorite authors. I've thoroughly enjoyed other books I've read by him, so I'm determined to finish The Eleventh Man, although it will be in small increments.

I finally just finished The Eleventh Man. It took me a long time to read it, but I think it will become one of those books that I enjoy the story more after reading and reflecting on the book.

Basically, it is the story of
This book is okay, but not great. Ivan Doig is a skillful writer, but this book was almost too much of a cliché. I kept thinking "this is written like a screenplay" - a touch ironic (or perhaps not) that the main character, Ben, was writing his experiences into a screenplay. The Eleventh Man certainly didn't compare in impact to The Bartender's Tale.
Diamond Cowboy
(The Eleventh Man) by Ivan Doig was a superlatively researched book about a football team for the 1943 season of Treasure State, a university in Great Falls Montana. The eleven men on the team were all drafted in to the war just after there season. Ivan Doig follows each one of the eleven men through there war carreers.
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Ivan Doig was born in White Sulphur Springs, Montana to a family of homesteaders and ranch hands. After the death of his mother Berneta, on his sixth birthday, he was raised by his father Charles "Charlie" Doig and his grandmother Elizabeth "Bessie" Ringer. After several stints on ranches, they moved to Dupuyer, Pondera County, Montana in the north to herd sheep close to the Rocky Mountain Front.

More about Ivan Doig...

Other Books in the Series

Two Medicine Country (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • English Creek
  • Dancing at the Rascal Fair
  • Ride With Me, Mariah Montana
  • Bucking the Sun
  • Mountain Time
  • Prairie Nocturne
  • The Whistling Season
  • Work Song
  • The Bartender's Tale
  • Sweet Thunder

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