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The Runner: A True Account of the Amazing Lies and Fantastical Adventures of the Ivy League Impostor James Hogue
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The Runner: A True Account of the Amazing Lies and Fantastical Adventures of the Ivy League Impostor James Hogue

3.16  ·  Rating Details ·  107 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
The Runner tells the remarkable true story of a teenage drifter and petty thief named James Hogue who woke up one cold winter morning in a storage shed in Utah and decided to start his life anew. Re-imagining himself as a self-educated ranch hand named Alexi Indris-Santana who read Plato under the stars and could run a mile in under four minutes, Hogue applied and was acce ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published February 2nd 2010 by Counterpoint (first published March 25th 2008)
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Aug 24, 2012 Matt rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, running
David Samuels - The Runner

""I knew that I could trust him on one count: the story of his life would have only a tangential relation to whatever version of it I chose to write... The fact that the dream of becoming someone new is doomed to failure is not really so bad, since ever story ends in failure. It's just a particular kind of story, that's all. Living suspended between the present and the future, 300 million flowers bloom in midair."

[4 stars for Augustinian philosophy, the places where tru
Aug 09, 2011 Ken rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I borrowed this thinking that it would be a "Catch me if you Can" type story and it was to some extent, although I think the subject of this was far less clever. Basically, the only thing James Hogue did was bs his way into Princeton at the age of 32. The author is fascinated with people who invent their own story as they go along. Hogue, until he went to prison, made up stories about himself and then stole personal items from the people he made friends with.

For most of the book I was not sure
May 28, 2008 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: (especially H.S.) teachers & students, Princeton alums, parents of kids seeking college admission
Shelves: education
I'm not entirely sure why, but I'm a little obsessed with James Hogue's Gatsby-esque tale of self-(re)creation and identity. He is a genuine "con-man" in archetypal American form.

He's a (Melvillianesque) confidence-man who is also a CONvicted felon. As author David Samuels describes Hogue in this volume (which is essentially an expanded version of an article that Samuels had previously published in The New Yorker magazine): "Hogue was a convicted fabulist who attempted again and again to impose
I really liked Samuels' Harper's piece from backstage at the Superbowl, so went for this one. Very different. The Harper's piece was all over the place--he spent half the article hanging out with Stevie Wonder, and had some sharp cultural commentary stuck into some pretty wacky observations.

The Runner is more a straight-up tale--an impostor/con man named James Hogue fakes his way into Princeton--and I wondered if he'd just tell it straight. Not really; be bounces around the chronology, and he's
Feb 28, 2010 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book tells of the exploits of James Hogue, a master of deceit. His speciality was masquerading as another person while attending different schools, most notably Princeton University. The author's set-up in telling these stories about Hogue is different and confusing and he has this irritating habit of injecting himself into the story and pontificating on various subjects. I nearly stopped reading the book. For me, the story really takes off in the last 90 pages, the amazing story of Hogue p ...more
Apr 07, 2008 Jillian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read this despite the lukewarm reviews it received, because I would read pretty much anything about James Hogue, and Samuels' original New Yorker piece about Hogue was compelling. (Even more gripping, however, was Jesse Moss' film "Con Man" - highly recommended.) But here, Samuels basically delivers a longer, more rambling, more self-involved, sloppily crafted article - not a book about Hogue. The interviews are oddly documented, and since Hogue's stint at Princeton is the most compelling part ...more
Dec 30, 2013 Sam rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a short book that can be finished within a couple of hours. If it were compared to a distance run it started off fast, blew it's load and walked slowly across the finish line. When I started reading this book, it was fascinating. The pages melted away and I was really captivated by the story. I couldn't put the book down as it described Jame's childhood and how he faked his way into Princeton. However, around the midway mark the story really bogged down and it became arduous to read. I f ...more
Aug 07, 2008 Kyla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(This is really a 3.5 review, oh woe, why are there no half stars?) Like an extended Vanity Fair piece or New York Times Magazine, I confess, I sometimes wondered if the subject merited being fleshed out so. But then the author turns on you mid-way and finally lets you know - this books isn't about the con-man, we don't really care about him - it's about class and America and meritocracy and higher education and how the Great American past-time of reinvention has disappeared completely, never to ...more
Mar 08, 2012 Lisa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Really it's more like 2.5 stars. The book just wasn't what I expected. I thought it would be a bunch of entertaining anecdotes about a con artist. Instead the author spent most of the book trying to "expose" Ivy League institutions for the frauds he believes they are. I didn't feel that he was revealing anything shocking or unknown about the Ivy League. I would've liked to have heard more of Hogue's story.
Stacey Nguyen
Sep 14, 2014 Stacey Nguyen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's been a while since I've finished a book within a day–it's hard to believe that this book is a biography. Echoing The Great Gatsby, Samuel writes beautifully, and he has a knack for extracting American ethics from James Hogue's narrative. A real treat considering the dry texts I often read for school.
Jul 21, 2008 Erin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an interesting look at a brilliant con-artist by a journalist who writes for the New Yorker, Harper's, etc. He give some great insight into how Americans lie to ourselves as part of out national self-image. Pretty original account. If interested check out this interview with the author, its pretty great
Sep 23, 2015 Megan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was too choppy; it just didn't flow well and wasn't very engaging. Not to mention I don't think the book really lived up to its title...although his life was certainly full of lies, there didn't really seem to be many "fantastical adventures." Perhaps I've just read too much fiction. :-)
Mar 15, 2008 Esther rated it liked it
A haunting tale of psychological manipulation and an exploration into what exactly would compel an individual to take such extreme measures to reinvent oneself. I assumed the book would be more of a thrilling story however, Samuels spends a lot of time on the previously mentioned exploring. Overall, it was definitely interesting but in no way was it mind blowing.
Jul 21, 2008 Rachel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I tried, but gave up after the first fifty pages. The narrative is so incoherent and the metaphors so mixed that I couldn't keep a grip on the life story of the protag-- well, antagonist, I guess. Samuels writes for some high-quality magazines -- I'm disappointed that this wasn't better.
Apr 16, 2009 Diana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was pretty good. I did feel like the author jumped into the story at a weird time and worked his way back around. I would have enjoyed this crazy guy's life story a little more if the pieces weren't as much in a jumble
Author's relationship with subject was a bit distracting at times, but still a well told story with provoking thoughts on identity.
This book was mildly interesting, and not well written. If you're interested in James Hogue, just read his Wiki page, and skip this book.
JP Perelman
Sep 22, 2008 JP Perelman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have a fascination with a good con story and this definitely qualifies.
Aug 23, 2008 James rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Started out promising, but didn't ultimately come together cohesively for my liking.

Smith Maddrey
Jul 20, 2009 Smith Maddrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Feels overwritten at the beginning but settles into a nice flowing narrative.
Kat rated it really liked it
Oct 16, 2013
Emily Mcdaniel
Emily Mcdaniel rated it it was ok
Mar 29, 2016
Bernard Radfar
Bernard Radfar rated it it was amazing
Dec 28, 2012
Laura Lindhe
Laura Lindhe rated it liked it
May 01, 2016
Janice rated it it was ok
Jun 06, 2012
Rhea rated it it was ok
Oct 28, 2009
Steve. rated it really liked it
May 20, 2008
Stefan Slater
Stefan Slater rated it really liked it
Mar 24, 2016
Rusty rated it really liked it
Jul 14, 2010
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