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Ranger Games: A Story of Soldiers, Family and an Inexplicable Crime

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  690 Ratings  ·  144 Reviews
Intricate, heartrending, and morally urgent, Ranger Games is a crime story like no other.

Alex Blum was a good kid, a popular high school hockey star from a tight-knit Colorado family. He had one goal in life: endure a brutally difficult selection program, become a U.S. Army Ranger, and fight terrorists for his country. He poured everything into achieving his dream. In the
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Published September 12th 2017 by Books on Tape
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The Pfaeffle Journal (Diane)
Dec 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Who would have thought that a newly minted Army Ranger would drive the get away car in a bank robbery. Why would a newly minted Army Ranger do such a stupid thing? Ben Blum, cousin to the newly minted Army Ranger spends a goodly amount of time trying to answer that question.

To be an Army Ranger was all Alex ever wanted. Two weeks before his scheduled leave for Iraq, and days after he finishes the grueling Ranger training he climbs into his car and drives three other people to a Bank of America
Brandon Forsyth
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is everything season two of SERIAL should have been.
The closest thing I can think of to compare this to is actually another podcast, S-TOWN. If you loved the way that podcast broadened and deepened as it went along, starting with the promise of a true crime story that morphed into a bizarre and absorbing character study, you will be fascinated by Ben Blum's exploration of his cousin and his compatriots, who all robbed a bank in 2006 on the brink of their deployment to Iraq. Why did they do
♥ Sandi ❣
3.5 stars Thanks to the Goodreads group Keep Turning Pages and Doubleday for giving me this book.

Why would an Army Ranger rob a bank in Tacoma Washington just days before deploying to Iraq? Alex Blum had just finished and graduated Ranger training and had gotten his orders to report to Iraq. He had finally made it. Alex had wanted to be a Army Ranger since he was a very young boy. His dream had come true. Whatever possessed him to rob a bank?

That is the premise of this book. However to get to
*Doubleday's Keep Turning Pages group read for March, 2018. I was fortunate enough to win a hardcover copy of this book in their giveaway. Many thanks to Doubleday!

Alex Blum had been in the US Army for four months, had gone through the exhaustive training to become an Army Ranger, and was just a couple of weeks away from deployment to Iraq, when he and two fellow soldiers plus two civilians committed a bank robbery in Tacoma, Washington. Alex drove the getaway car.

As a mother, I'd have to ask hi
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received Ranger Games: A Story of Soldiers, Family and an Inexplicable Crime as a Goodreads giveaway. Oddly enough, I first saw the book cover when it was advertised at my local indie book store, and I told a friend then that I would probably never read that book because the cover didn't appeal to me at all. Later, after having actually read the cover, I decided it sounded interesting after all, and I was excited when I won a copy from Goodreads and Doubleday.

I was immediately fascinated by t
Ron S
Aug 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very immersive, in depth look at a young Army Ranger's participation in a bank robbery, written by a cousin of the perpetrator. What starts off as something like a Manchurian Candidate for millennials broadens into a deeper look at family, identity, manipulation and the lies that exist in all of our lives.
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
Alex Blum had dreams of becoming a Army Ranger, since he was five years old. Growing up in a close-knit family, in Colorado, he was a popular, good-looking kid, who became a hockey star in high school. He joined the Army, immediately after finishing school and was accepted into the elite Ranger program, achieving his lifetime goal.
Just before his deployment to Iraq, he entered a personal vehicle, along with two other Rangers, drove into downtown Tacoma, Washington and robbed a bank.
Why would Ale
Book Pilgrim
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
Ranger Games is worth reading, though I never felt as interested in Blum's family as he naturally is, and, in my mind, this is the trick that makes a memoir great. I also struggled with his prose style, which is clearly the product of a mathematician's mind. Some might appreciate this, as it gives him a unique voice. He writes in syntactical formulas—finely-wrought, symmetrical sentences that are elegant, and even arresting at times, but somehow lacking in that mysterious and atmospheric force t ...more
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I took a long road trip and took the audio book of "Ranger Games" with me. What a fantastic companion the book proved to be! Ben Blum had me going in one direction only to be turned into a contradictory one in the next moment. He is a gifted storyteller as he takes apart an amazing story of triumph and loss. What I appreciated about the story is the way in which he walks the reader through the aftermath of the robbery for everyone in the family.

To reveal the skilled craftsmanship of this book wo
Amy Morgan
Apr 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Thank you Edelweiss for my review copy of this book. Fascinating story with themes of brainwashing combined with admiration of and blind devotion to the Ranger Creed which leads to a bank robbery that costs what seems to be a dedicated young man his lifelong dream and almost brings an entire family to ruins. Captivating, frustrating and at times terrifying that some parts of this story happened.
Kate Olson
Incredibly analytical and family-oriented, this 400-page account of a 90 second crime reads as a detailed account of military training combined with a psychology textbook and memoir.

Thank you to Doubleday Books for providing me with an advance copy of this title for review purposes.

RANGER GAMES did the impossible - it held me in suspense about a crime I absolutely already knew the outcome of, and kept me invested in the intricate account of a family I have never met and will never meet. Due
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
What a unique book! I fell head-over-heels for it, because it was so absorbing, and interesting. It's a true-crime type of book, but delves into the fascinating territory of character and what makes people tick. It's the story of Alex, who always wanted to be an elite Army Ranger....then, seemingly out of nowhere, he robs a bank. I don't want to say more, because it's hard to say more without ruining the plot, but it is a great read - many fascinating elements to it (true crime, psychology, etc. ...more
Jul 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
I won a copy of this book on goodreads in exchange for an honest review. This is a very well researched and written. At the core of it there was a fact, a bank robbery, but how and why it happened, was the puzzle. Fans of true crime would enjoy this book, and peope are interested in stories how good people can be talked into doing bad things. Yes I would recommend it.
Krista Park
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great, self-reflective contextualizing of a true crime situation in terms of the many familial and socio-cultural contexts. And, a well-written, good read.

This is not the book to read if you aren't willing to question military indoctrination techniques.

I really enjoyed my time reading this book.
Tom Schulte
Sep 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
It was supposedly to make the world aware of Task Force 6-26 war crimes and Camp Nama prisoner abuse in Iraq and similar other U.S. military atrocities that made Luke Elliott Sommer , a former United States Army Ranger, turn bank robber. Or, maybe the money stolen in the robbery was intended to counter the motorcycle gangs controlling crime in the American Pacific Northwest and Canadian British Columbia, primarily the Hells Angels. Or, Sommer is a psychopath or made to behave like one after goin ...more
Sep 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to Goodreads and Penguin Random House Canada for a free copy of this book.
Ranger Games is the story of Alex Blum, a young man who, on his way to fulfilling his dream of becoming a U.S. Army Ranger, becomes involved in an armed robbery, with catastrophic consequences. This true crime book is written by Alex's cousin Ben Blum. It is very well researched with lots of interesting information about the Ranger training program, psychopath characteristics, and the psychological experiments of St
Sep 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really looking forward to reading this book. Will update when I am finished.
Ricky Duncan
Sep 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
Received this copy as a giveaway win. Not a "who done it", but a "why done it". Great psychological analysis of armed forces training and how it effected one young man, and how his family reacted to a totally out of character action of his.
Nov 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As others have suggested, this is a very Serial-esque humanized postmortem of a seemingly inexplicable crime...I'm not sure it's quite as fascinating and inexplicable as the author finds it, but since one of the perpetrators is his first cousin, this is also an exploration of family history in part. I like that there are so many nested eggs to open here: the robbery itself, Ranger training and military culture, the possibly psychopathic man who engineered the whole event, the psychology of brain ...more
A thoughtful memoir that explores a puzzling event that struck the author's family like a lightning bolt: his 19 year old cousin, having achieved his life's ambition of making it into the elite US Army Rangers, on the verge of heading to Iraq, is instead arrested for acting as the getaway driver in a Tacoma bank robbery. The author looks at the Rangers' training and ethos, and his own family history, and asks interesting, important questions about culpability and self-knowledge. It was a little ...more
Thorough, detailed exploration of the thinking & motivation that led to trained U.S. Army Rangers committing a violent crime. Author Ben Blum, cousin of main character Alex Blum, does a fantastic job of telling the stories of all the key players as well as his own. He credits Janet Malcolm, whom he lists as a personal hero, and her The Journalist and the Murderer as the inspiration for his own book, and I've added it to my "To Read" list.
Raman K
May 22, 2018 rated it did not like it
This just wasnt my type of book.
May 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure I can trust anyone in this to be telling whole truth, but it's a fairly interesting look into brainwashing and motivated reasoning.
Nov 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is an all time top work of journalistic non fiction comparable to Going Clear and Columbine. It is an utterly engrossing story with many surprises and a fascinating cast of characters. The author steps into the story at times since he is a cousin to the young Ranger who participated in a bank robbery. I can't recommend this book strongly enough. Key word phrases might include Rangers, family history, good people do bad things, psychopaths, brainwashing, reality tv, masculinity, family relat ...more
D. C.
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
"Or so the story went."

Ben Blum's RANGER GAMES is a fine book, all the more so for being his debut effort. It's fascinating, unsettling, and endlessly readable.

The chapter on the "Dr. Phil" TV episode is worth the price of admission all by itself. It's a clever and hilarious standalone piece of writing that shows a keen reporter's eye for the absurd (and troubling).

Ben's book is a detailed unraveling of a Tacoma bank robbery involving his cousin, Alex, who was a young U.S. Army Ranger at the ti
Syndi Day
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i was the lucky winner of a copy of this novel through a goodreads win. it is a very well researched true story written by the cousin of the man who perpetrated the crime. it is a very disturbing story about the army and the methods they use to mold soldiers and how the brainwashing can spill over to every area of someones life. it emphasizes obedience and following what you are told to do without question- right or wrong. a very though provoking tale. syndi
Trevor Pearson
Received a copy of Ranger Games by Ben Blum through the GoodReads First Reads Giveaway program in exchange for an honest review

"...Gallantly will I show the world that I am a specially selected and well-trained Soldier. My courtesy to superior officers, neatness of dress and care of equipment shall set the example for others to follow.
Energetically will I meet the enemies of my country. I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better trained and will fight with all my might. Surren
Gabriel Dedeic
Sep 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A surprising twisted story about Alex Blum, a good kid from Colorado and a US Army Ranger who robs a bank just before he deploys to Iraq. Why..... crazy! A story that will surprise you.

I recommend this book. I recieved this book as a free giveaway from Goodreads.
Karen Barbieri
Nov 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
A bit boring at times and a little drawn out. Interesting to think how this person was affected by Ranger Training and wonder if this others felt the same.
Nov 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite its interesting premise, there were points at which I found myself bored because it seemed a straightforward and simple narrative. There were some truly powerful moments - when Alex's sentence is given; the revelation towards the book's end - that evoke real emotion in the reader, despite your remove from the situation: I can only imagine how these moments felt to those directly involved.

A powerful narrative that explores, as the title says, an "Inexplicable Crime" and does its best at e
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BEN BLUM was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. He holds a PhD in computer science from the University of California Berkeley, where he was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, and an MFA in fiction from New York University, where he was awarded the New York Times Foundation Fellowship. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and stepdaughter.
More about Ben Blum

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