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Run with the Horsemen

(Porter Osborne Jr. #1)

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  3,413 ratings  ·  245 reviews
Porter Osborne Jr. is a precocious, sensitive, and rambunctious boy trying to make it through adolescence during the depression years. On a red-clay farm in Georgia he learns all there is to know about cotton chopping, hog killing, watermelon thumping, and mule handling. School provides a quick course in practical joking, schoolboy crushes, athletic glory, and clandestine ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published July 3rd 1984 by Penguin Books (first published 1982)
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Average rating 4.31  · 
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 ·  3,413 ratings  ·  245 reviews

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Diane Barnes
May 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book, and in many ways it took me right back to my childhood in rural North Carolina in the 50's and early 60's, even though this was set in Georgia at a much earlier time, the 1930's during the depression. It follows Porter Osborne, Jr from his very young years through his graduation from high school. Porter was very intelligent, very much a trouble maker, and very small for his age. There are some really funny episodes and also some extremely sad scenes, but it is essenti ...more
First of all, you should know this is the first book of a trilogy. I didn’t know that and my thoughts were courting a few expletives at the ending as it is a bit of a cliffhanger. I just followed this ‘boy’ as he is mostly known during the narrative, through 422 pages, and the author leaves me with these questions. Now that I understand the cliffhanger ‘may’ be resolved, I am only somewhat mollified by the ending.

Porter Osborne Jr. grows up on a cotton farm in rural Georgia. Along with his pare
Jun 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everybody
This trilogy is underrated. Porter Osbourne should go down as one of the classic characters not just in Southern Lit, but in literature in general.

The first book is as a good a rumination on adolescent male sexuality as Roth's "Portnoy's Complaint," and also examines race relations and generational distance in the agrarian early-20th century South. The second finds Porter disillusioned with life and medical school, as well as losing his virginity to the unforgettable Vashti. The third sees him
May 09, 2019 rated it liked it
2.5 stars, rounded up.

It is difficult not to feel some affinity with a book that is set in a place you know. I was born and raised in the Piedmont of Georgia, born in Crawford W. Long hospital, strolled many a time on Peachtree Street, and have set on the porch at the Fayetteville Courthouse. So, this was like a stroll through my childhood in some ways, but it was a departure from it, as well, and in ways that I was very grateful for. Perhaps that much changed between the 1930’s, when this book
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read this series when I was in my early teens, I believe. It recently popped back into my head, so I thought I'd see if I still enjoyed it. I think I appreciate it more now, because I can see the adult humor in it. Ferrol Sams uses such beautiful language to describe Georgia between Reconstruction and WWII, the relationships between the landowners and their dependents and the virtures of being Raised Right.

I found it fascinating that we do not find out our protagonist's name until page 65, bef
Feb 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books, I've re-read this so many times I've lost count! By the author of Forrest Gump, Run With The Horsemen is the coming-of-age story of "Little Porter" Osbourne, the son of a Georgia farming family growing up during the Depression. The genteel, long-suffering mother (who strikes fear in the hearts of her husband and son with the words "I'm not mad, I'm just hurt"); the patrician lawyer father who the boy adores and lives to impress, even though aware of (and often teased fo ...more
Jenn  Marx
Sep 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Since I have moved to Georgia, I have been wanting to read a book that submerses me in the southern culture to help me acclamate. This book was given to me by a friend who grew up in the deep south that thought it would do the trick. It reminded me of A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN--but about a boy, set in the deep south, and not as tragic. I fell in love with this protagonist, the hired "colored-folk" that worked his pa's farms, and his flawed family. It was a delight of a book. So glad I read it. ...more
Joseph Dorris
Mar 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: coming-of-age
When I discovered Ferrol Sams', Run with the Horsemen, I could not understand why it had not been hailed as one of the best American novels of our time. It captures with brutal accuracy the Deep South at the onset of the Great Depression. It reveals the reality of the times and would be what one would see had he a time machine to travel back to these days. Porter Osborne, intelligent, humorous, and perceptive, yet, naïve, is the bridge between the cultures. I thoroughly enjoyed this book ...more
Now THIS is how a coming-of-age story should be written. Alongside To Kill a Mockingbird, which is the best of the best, I think that Run With the Horsemen comes in a close second, with two differences being that it is the boy's story without having a heroic father as counterpoint (although his father is certainly central to the plot), and it was a bit raunchier in the telling. The writing is wonderful, so descriptive, so funny at times, so interesting regarding life on a Georgia farm during the ...more
brian dean
Feb 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is an great book on its own but I have just finished rereading "To Kill a Mockingbird" and I was interested in comparing the two books. Really, the big similarity is how they try to explain how white Southerners treated blacks during the depression. Both have a lot of "this is the culture, this is how it has always been done".

Although both books have a strong, educated father who is in the government, and both deal with the relationship of the children and their fathers, Run with the Horsem
Jul 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Gill by: Donette
I found this slow-going at first, and found difficulty in knowing who was the central character, and would have given it 2 stars. By a third of the way through I was involved with the main character and his dilemmas and life, it was making 3 stars. By the end of the book I was thoroughly convinced and found the conclusion strong and thought-provoking, and a 5-star finish. I shall read more by Ferrol Sams in the future and appreciate Donette's recommendation. ...more
Apr 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The boy is endearing, precocious, funny, and at the same time forever trying to measure up to his father's expectations. A must-read series if you love Southern coming-of-age. Incidentally, I have attended a couple of book-signings by Ferrol Sams, and the man is amazing. He's not a quick scribbler, but actually spends a half-minute or so talking to each reader, then...BAM! writes a perfect line or two in your book, like he's known you forever. Snap! ...more
George Bradford
Mar 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to George Bradford by: Scott
Shelves: southern-man
Run with the Horsemen is a wonderful book. It's a terrific story with a fascinating central character. And it captures all the aspects of life in rural Georgia during the Great Depression.

It took me a while to get into the story. The narrator writes in the past tense, refers to himself in the third person ("the boy" aka Porter Osborne, Jr.) and the sentences run long. But I adjusted to the prose and was rewarded for the effort. This first volume of Porter's life story spans from childhood throug
Tony Smith
Jul 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Run with the Horsemen is a must read for any Southerner or anyone who has enjoyed To Kill a Mockingbird. One experiences of life in rural Georgia during the Great Depression and sees it from the eyes of a young boy.

I enjoyed every page and was sorry to come to its end. Ferrol Sams created a book that will likely be one of my all time favorites.
May 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of the most underrated coming-of-age stories ever. This autobiographical trilogy, beginning with Run with the Horsemen, chronicles the life of Porter Osborne from his childhood in rural Georgia through medical school at Emory during World War II.

Run with the Horsemen, the first book, chronicles Porter's childhood on the Georgia farm. It is a can't miss read. Porter is a latter-day Tom Sawyer, and his adventures are just as good. I know that's heresy, but there it is.
This book is set in the south in the same era as “To Kill a Mockingbird” and is both funny and poignant as it explores the relationship between the races through the eyes of the protagonist, Porter Osborne III, a bright, sensitive boy growing up on a farm in Georgia. It follows him from childhood to WWII, when he graduates from high school. The book is based on the author’s own boyhood in Fayette County. He published the book, his first, in 1982 at age 60.
Feb 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
One of my all-time favorite books...Southern storytelling at its best.

This is the first in a semi-autobiographical trilogy that follows the life and exploits of the main character, Porter Osborne jr. (Sambo). Also don't miss.

2) The Whisper of the River

3) When All the World Was Young
Kim Justice
Apr 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I just love this whole trilogy-- I love watching the main character grow up and figure out life.
Jan 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I might be a bit prejudiced because I know Dr. Sams personally but I thought this book was wonderful!
Jun 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
A coming of age book featuring an endearing and mischievous young Porter Osbourne Jr who grows up on a farm in Georgia during the Great Depression. Part one of Ferrol Sams trilogy of stories of that time.
Read for On The Southern Literary Trail. 4 stars
Dec 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book was absolutely incredibe! At first I read it because my parents and grandmother had both read this book and spoke very highly off it; and now that I have already finished, I agree. The characters are very life like and, as it is with most books, the reader gets lost in the story and forgets that the characters, ocurrences and places in the book are fictional! I hardily approve with the title as it is very meaningful and I feel that it sums the story up very well as Porter, or Sambo as ...more
Book Concierge

This is a semi-autobiographical novel detailing the coming of age of a young boy – the scion of a well-to-do cotton farmer in rural George, during the Depression. The Boy is the only son of a refined and long-suffering mother and an alcoholic, politically connected father. He is smart and resourceful, but confused about much of the information that he gathers by eavesdropping on the adults on and around the farm. He frequently feels alone, in part because he has only sisters, but also bec
Jan 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Peter by: The author
This series is a must read for everyone who grew up in the South, moves to the South, loves a person from the South, or just needs to know what it means to be "Raised Right.

Turns out I met all the criteria save the first. I fell in love with the stories, the moods, the lessons, and what makes all of the above more precious than is seemed before.

This book is the hook of the trilogy - it's impossible not to love the story of the boy growing toward manhood. If you had the pleasure to meet Ferrol Sa
Stan Crader
Aug 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This glimpse at rural America will have you in stitches. I suspect the story is thematically biographical but there's no way to know. Sams' description of a young boy's daily adventure makes one long for the days of youth. Sams' posseses possibly the best vocabularly of any author I've read. And his creative use of seldom used adjectives is a real treat for the mind. ...more
Dec 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, southern
Ferrol Sams, where have you been all of my life? Run With the Horsemen vivaciously brought to life the daily happenings of a small southern town during the 1920s and 1930s. Accessibly-written, nuanced, scathing, scandalous, and hilarious. Rarely has reading a novel been such a pure delight.
Mar 20, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is pretty close to The Waltons tv show. Only with more excretoryish humor. Mr. Sams enjoys bodily functions. Very simple story line. Life was so much simpler then. I may read the next in the series, only because there is no thinking involved and sometimes I am a simple guy.
Jun 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
One of my top ten all time favorites.
Dec 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Love everything written by Ferrol Sams. This is the first of three about Porter Osborne, Jr. and his coming of age in the South during the Depression.
Connor Winn
Jan 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Southern fiction at its finest.
May 25, 2011 rated it did not like it
I did not like this book! it was super weird for me a teenage girl to be in the mind of a nasty little boy!
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Other books in the series

Porter Osborne Jr. (5 books)
  • The Whisper of the River (Porter Osborne Jr, #2)
  • When All the World Was Young
  • Run with the Horsemen/The Whisper of the River-Boxed Set
  • Ferrol Sams trilogy: Run With the Horsemen; The Whisper of the River; When All the World Was Young

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