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Rogue Male (Rogue Male #1)

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  3,100 Ratings  ·  327 Reviews
1930-something: a professional hunter is passing through an unnamed Central European country that is in the thrall of a vicious dictator. The hunter wonders whether he can penetrate undetected into the dictator’s private compound. He does. He has the potential target in his sites and is wondering whether to pull the trigger when security catches up with him. Imprisoned, to ...more
Paperback, 182 pages
Published November 6th 2007 by NYRB Classics (first published 1939)
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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
Matthias
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
...more
Nandakishore Varma
Mar 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
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
...more
Nigeyb
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
...more
Tony
Aug 26, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Lobstergirl
Aug 11, 2016 rated it liked it
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
...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
Lauren
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
...more
Reh
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
...more
Yulia
Jan 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Cphe
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.
Jim
Jan 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adventure, fiction
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
...more
Jessica
Jul 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Dfordoom
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
...more
Leslie
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
...more
Issicratea
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
...more
Adam
Feb 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Lee
Jul 20, 2016 marked it as sampled
Shelves: put-down-for-now
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
Nancy Oakes
Jan 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Sun
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
S.
Mar 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nyrb, read-in-2009
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
the gift
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 reader mig ...more
Ben Loory
Feb 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
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.

p.s
...more
Andy Weston
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My copy of Rogue Male is one published by the New York Review Of Books as part of their Classics series. It’s easy to see why they chose it also, it is so typically British.

It is a story told by a failed assassin. An attempt made on a dictator of an unnamed country, but we are told, close to Poland. From then on our protagonist is on the run, first across Poland and the east of Germany, then the south of England. Despite his desperate situation he always acts with proper morals and an exaggerat
...more
Ken
Jun 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Ricky
Feb 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rogue Male is a wonderful thriller that keeps you on your toes throughout. It reminded me of 39 steps, but is better in some of the area's of suspense in my opinion. It’s a cat and mouse thriller that is well written and has you completely involved in the chase and plot.
Nicholas During
Dec 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Are you into the genre of chase books? This book has to be the originator, not just of the books but of movies too. And if not it is definitely the best example of the chase genre that one could hope for. But there is a lot more than just genre fiction here. Though the moral conflict between "does one kill an evil dictator who is bound to kill many others?" or "does one maintain the Kantian virtue of not pulling the trigger" is a bit lame and overdone (though this reader is generally pleased whe ...more
Myles
Apr 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary, thriller, nyrb, c20th
The man is hunted down like an animal. Household's narrator, an unnamed distinguished hunter, drops right into his situation at the start of his record - the whole novel is a journal written at various stages in his journal. It accomplishes being both immediate and having the virtue of being able to reflect on the events from a later point.

The date is sometime in the mid to late 1930s. The hunter, our hunter I suppose I should say, writes he had a hankering for a new kind of target, a more dang
...more
Frank Mundo
Mar 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Bourne Identity in the 1930’s, that’s what I kept thinking while reading this classic “hunted man/man on the run” thriller.

The story opens in an unnamed European country, probably Germany, because our hero and narrator (also unnamed although whose name he says is widely known), an upper-class British hunter, magnificently fit, has apparently followed a dictator he calls “The Great Man,” probably Hitler, to his house in the country to see, just for the fun of it, how close he could get to as
...more
Tony
Apr 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thrillers
ROGUE MALE. (1939). Geoffrey Household. ****1/2.
This was a recent release by The Folio Society that also contained an introduction by John Banville and illustrations by David Rooney. Household (1900-1988) was a very popular writer of thriller fiction back in the 30s and 40s. He was from Great Britain and was less well known in this country. I’ve only read one other book by him, probably about forty years ago. He didn’t write an any identifiable form; it changed from book to book depending on his
...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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“I have noticed that what cats most appreciate in a human being is not the ability to produce food - which they take for granted - but his or her entertainment value. Asmodeus took to his toy enthusiastically. In another week he permitted me to stroke him, producing a raucous purr, but, in order to save his face, pretending to be asleep.” 18 likes
“I have never taken sides, never leaped wholeheartedly into one scale or the other; nor do I realize disappointments, provided they are severe, until the occasion is long past. Yet I am ruled by my emotions, though I murder them at birth.” 4 likes
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