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Rogue Male

(Rogue Male #1)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  3,754 ratings  ·  417 reviews
Rogue Male is one of the classic thrillers of the 20th century. An Englishman plans to assassinate the dictator of a European country. But he is foiled at the last moment and falls into the hands of ruthless and inventive torturers. They devise for him an ingenious and diplomatic death but, for once, they bungle the job and he escapes. But England provides no safety from h ...more
Kindle Edition, 182 pages
Published (first published 1939)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  3,754 ratings  ·  417 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Jan 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spies
”I hold no brief for the pre-war spartan training of the english upper class--or middle class as it is now the fashion to call it, leaving the upper to the angels--since in the ordinary affairs of a conventional life it is not of the slightest value to anyone; but it is of use on the admittedly rare occasions when one needs a high degree of physical endurance. I have been through an initiation ceremony on the Rio Javary--the only way I could persuade them to teach me how their men can exercise a ...more
This review consists of two parts:

Part I: A Study of Ratings
musings that may not interest (potential) readers of this book

Part II: In pursuit of the Rogue Male Rating
the book review

Part I: A Study of Ratings

Goodreads Ratings, such a strange species, aren't they? We've all seen them, we all know them, we've all had some in our care, but still they retain a certain air of mystery. Their purpose: categorisation. Their paradox: their growing population becomes ever more complex and Ratin
Nandakishore Varma
This book is considered to be a classic of the thriller genre. After finishing it, I can understand why. And also why, like most classics, it seriously underwhelmed me.

The novel revolves around the premise of a man, simultaneously on the run from the police and the baddies, fighting it out in rural England. Interestingly, it is a war of attrition than one of aggression: with the protagonist holed up in a burrow and the antagonist waiting outside. There is surprisingly little violence (only three
Aug 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, 1900-1950
I defy anyone to read this novel at a measured and reflective pace; it’s one for wolfing. I devoured it at speed.

On the surface, this is simply a piece of very successful genre fiction—people compare it with John Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps, and there are certainly similarities of plot (hero pursued by enemy agents; takes to the hills). It’s an infinitely better book than Buchan’s, though, in my opinion. It’s extremely well written, for one thing: taut, spare, understated, occasionally ellipt
I remember seeing a British film version of this book in the 1970s, starring Peter O’Toole, though I don’t recall much of the detail. The book itself came to my mind after reading the review by my GR Friend Dax:

The Introduction to the edition I read comments that R.L.Stevenson’s “Kidnapped” was the book that started the “hunted man” genre, and that John Buchan and Graham Greene picked up that baton before passing it to Geoffrey Household, who published th
Jun 15, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This certainly had me on the edge of the seat, or jumping out of it at several points - with the tension.

And I enjoyed Rogue Male's visceral interaction with the Dorset countryside. The only downside I felt was that Household had his "knickers in a twist" over the plot lines.
For example Major Quive-Smith - our hero's arch-enemy is compelled to ask "Why did you miss?" - the trigger squeeze that would have taken out Herr H., but still, "you managed to dispatch the guy at Aldywch station without a
Aug 11, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Shelves: fiction, nyrb

An unnamed narrator, a Brit on a shooting trip in Poland, decides to wander over to an unnamed dictator's (clearly Hitler) compound across the border. (His reasons for doing this are revealed later). After hours of surveilling the property, he is caught with the dictator in his rifle sights, tortured (the torture is "off-page"), dropped over a cliff and presumed dead. He is not dead, and he goes on the run. The novel consists of the hunt for the unnamed narrator.

I'm a John Buchan fan, and the si
Jun 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished-in-2014
Rogue Male is a chase book that gains momentum as it goes along. When the clever protagonist (being pursued) meets his match in an equally clever antagonist (giving pursuit), the reader can't help but breeze through pages to see who wins the high-stakes chess match.

Luckily, I stopped reading Victoria Nelson's introduction when I sensed it might give up too much of the plot. I went back to it after finishing the book and yes, it did, which makes one wonder why it's not an afterword instead of an
Sep 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I came to 'Rogue Male' by Geoffrey Household knowing very little about it, other than it is regarding by many as a classic.

The set up is simple - the story told with understated economy and amusing nonchalance - and the reader is plunged straight into the action from the very first page.

It's 1938, and our stiff upper lipped English aristocrat narrator has left England with the possible intention of assassinating an unnamed European dictator (resembling Hitler). He is caught by the dictator's se
Aug 26, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first-person protagonist of this book is unnamed, but everyone he meets knows who he is. He does not have a job, as far as the story is told; rather, he is an adventurer and a famous one. He is caught trying to assassinate a European tyrant (also unnamed but clearly Hitler), tortured, left for dead; and then when he is clearly not dead and back in England, bad guys pop up like some child's pounding game. At one level the book is about his very specific step-by-step flight and concealment. He ...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Incredible stuff. A big game hunter decides, on what he tells himself is a mere whim, to stalk somewhat bigger game than usual - the dictator of a certain central European nation. He is caught, tortured and left for dead. Only, he refuses to die, battling against crippling injuries and skilled pursuers to make his way back to his native England where he goes to ground - literally - and waits out the chase. It's a harrowing story of self-realisation as the hunter turns hunted and draws on previou ...more
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not your typical suspense story. ‘Rogue Male’ stands apart because of the narrator’s complexity and the slow reveal of his true motives, his past, and the emotions he previously repressed. Household also tackles class hierarchy, patriotism and the Third Reich. The unnamed Dictator in the story is clearly intended to be Hitler. Excellent read.
Jan 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: suspense
Rogue Male has an irresistible thriller premise: our narrator, an expert hunter, is caught drawing a bead on Hitler (or, more accurately, Never Specifically Hitler). He claims, not entirely implausibly, that he never intended to shoot, that he only wanted to see whether or not he could get close enough to do so; he winds up tortured and left for dead.

Eminently capable at dealing with the wilderness, and reasonably astute about dealing with people in general, Our Man then tries to make his way ba
Oct 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
oh, i've only clicked four stars and it created an empty review. goodreads fooled me into thinking that it would simply add it to my already read list. now, i have no choice but to write a review to cover my tracks and spin an undisentangable web of deceit and cunning.

this plan was simple enough, the first step though, was to get some coffee to kick my brain into its thinking position. i needed some ground coffee, coffee machine, cooker, water, one and a half teaspoonfuls of brown sugar and a c
The upshot on this -- and no surprise: This novel is far better than Fritz Lang's 1941 World War II thriller film version (Man Hunt), though the latter has its strengths and pleasures. An entirely new character is written into the film, a romantic interest and hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold played by Joan Bennett, who steals the movie, lending a bit of screwball comedy sensibility that the mostly humorless novel lacks. Bennett's good-time Cockney gal thus serves the same narrative purpose (ultimate ...more
Jan 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: criminal-intent
More books should be as compactly and neatly composed as this was. It's refreshing not to feel as if the author were dragging events on for the sake of gravity. The tone speaks for itself. Another accomplishment: I've already forgotten what small troubles I had with the plotting and protagonist because i was so satisfied by the ending.
Jan 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, adventure
Rogue Male is a strange book, if for no other reason than we never discover the name of the hero. All we know is the first name of his solicitor, the assumed name of his pursuer, and the last name of the character he calls The Second Murderer (after Shakespeare). Yet Geoffrey Household has considerable influence on Ian Fleming's James Bond novels, among others.

Rogue Male is pure adventure. The Hero walks from Poland into Germany, visits Berchtesgaden and draws a bead with his hunting rifle on Ad
The hunter becomes the hunted is the basis for this tightly written and concise thriller. Enjoyed the time period depicted and the setting of a lush rural England.
Jul 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: David Kowalski, Sketchbook
Am very glad to have come across this novel, and I'll certainly be looking for more by Household. The narrative voice is completely compelling and the story suspenseful.

Victoria Nelson, in her introduction, calls it a "wilderness procedural." Kafka, Robert Louis Stevenson, Defoe are mentioned. I thought too of Coetzee's 'The Life & Times of Michael K.,' and I wondered if Coetzee had read this. The novels are quite different but both men escape from 'civilization' and live on the run, close to (
Mar 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spy-fiction
Geoffrey Household’s 1939 thriller novel Rogue Male deals with a plot to kill HItler. Only it’s not actually a plot, it’s more of a solo mission that at first seems to have no real motive.

Hitler is never mentioned by name and the attempted assassination takes place in an unnamed central European nation but it’s perfectly clear who the target is. He’s a dictator who is seen as a potential threat to Britain and his country shares a border with Poland.

More interesting than the subject matter is th
I started this book thinking that I already knew the basic plot from watching the film. I quickly realized that I had confused this with another story with a slightly similar premise of a man being hunted.

In this, the unnamed protagonist is both the hunter and the hunted. I was bothered for a while in the first section with this man's motivation for his "sporting stalk" of a leader of a foreign country but this is eventually explained in the final section.

Now that I have finished, I do vaguely r
Lee Klein
Stopped around pg 75, nearly halfway through -- the opening pages were so amazing I thought I was in for a treat but once he makes it to London all air goes out of it. The prose seemed like someone ran clear English into Google translate so it'd come out as obtuse British, which isn't a bad thing as long as the story propels the odd language along. In tone and approach seemed modern although written in the '30s. Disappointed in myself for quitting on it but I can only read a few paragraphs at a ...more
Feb 19, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Published in 1939, Geoffrey Household’s Rogue Male begins at the conclusion of a spectacular storyline, and from that dynamic seed there grows an even more fantastic, and unpredictable, plot. The protagonist is a British big-game hunter who has, for his own reasons, gone cross-country on the continent and attempted to assassinate a head of state (though the target isn’t named, all signs point to Hitler). At the last moment he fails, and the novel begins after several days of torture and interrog ...more
I love books where the hunted digs a hole in the ground or hillside and hides there with his supplies. I also have the urge to burrow, so I’m enthralled by the measurements from floor to ceiling, what the walls are made of, the tools, food, as well as the methods of going to the bathroom and enjoying a cozy fire without suffocating oneself. Such a going to ground is a particular fantasy of mine (and also one of the reasons I also liked JM Coetzee’s “Life and Times of Michael K.") and surely one ...more
Nov 15, 2018 marked it as to-read
Huh, this looks sortof interesting. Thanks to Joseph M. - I stopped by your page and saw that you're reading it. Diggin' it so far?
Feb 03, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
An unnamed Englishman is caught trying to assassinate the leader of an unnamed Eastern European government. Naturally that government doesn't think very well of him and torture him thinking that he is part of some elaborate conspiracy or an agent of the British service. These events are recalled some weeks later in a journal that the would-be assassin keeps as he escapes, eludes capture, returns to England and continues to hide from the police there. The man is a skilled hunter who has the persi ...more
130811: this is sort of an original thriller-type, after 39 steps. there is something classical, pure, about this first-person narrative from the perspective of a would-be assassin. there is nothing extra. everything conveys simply what is done and what happens. this has also the affect of hollowing out the character, which on the one hand makes him easy to slip into, on the other, hard to identify with, if you are not the likely reader. it was published in 1939, as an entertainment, and this re ...more
Ben Loory
Feb 13, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
supposedly the beginning of the modern suspense novel, this book is about an english big game hunter in a foreign country who gets a yen to see if it might be possible-- just possible, mind you, in a theoretical sense-- to assassinate the leader of that country as he relaxes at his country estate. things get pretty hairy pretty fast and although this was written 70 years ago it is by no means for the faint of heart. or the claustrophobic. there's some stuff in here i doubt i will ever forget.

May 27, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nyrb, 2020
This might be the slowest faced paced novel I've ever read.

It's fast and then slow....then picks up, then slow again and then towards the end it runs through a stop sign and never stops.

In parts, it's written so well, but in a way that makes you feel underwhelmed.

I liked the premise (an assassin becoming the hunted), but like above, as soon as something would happen, it would drop back down to a miserably slow pace.

I must say that there is a scene with a part of an animal that is ingeniously mac
Nancy Oakes
Jan 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first noticed this book some time ago when perusing the CWA list of Top 100 Crime Novels of All Time, first published in 1990. With the hope of someday being able to get through all of these books, I bought the NYRB edition of Rogue Male to add to my ever-growing mountain range of books to read. Funny though -- it's not what I would consider a crime novel, per se; imho it reads more like a spyish/thriller type thing along the lines of Buchan's The Thirty-Nine Steps. Nevertheless, it was quite ...more
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British author of mostly thrillers, though among 37 books he also published children's fiction. Household's flight-and-chase novels, which show the influence of John Buchan, were often narrated in the first person by a gentleman-adventurer. Among his best-know works is' Rogue Male' (1939), a suggestive story of a hunter who becomes the hunted, in 1941 filmed by Fritz Lang as 'Man Hunt'. Household' ...more

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