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Crisis, Pursued by Disaster, Followed Closely by Catastrophe: A Memoir of Life on the Run

3.6  ·  Rating details ·  195 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews

Throughout his childhood, Mike O’Connor’s family pretended to be normal. But Mike and his two younger sisters knew that their parents were hiding something–a secret they didn’t dare talk about. The family appeared to be no different from any of their small-town Texas neighbors–that is, until suddenly, the O’Connors would flee, leaving with only a few hours’ notice, abandon

Hardcover, 290 pages
Published March 4th 2009 by Random House (first published August 21st 2007)
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Dec 11, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Memoir fans
Shelves: non-fiction
Well, the reason for his family's constant upheavel and paranoia was not what I expected. In fact, it was pretty overblown and enraging the way misunderstandings and fear escalated into what was probably an occasionally justified panic. I don't want to spoil the secret that kept his family on the run for decades, so I guess I'll just leave it at that. I couldn't wait to figure out the mystery and I read the book in one night. It's a fast read, well told, even if I am a morbid creature that felt ...more
Oct 01, 2007 rated it really liked it
Oh, what a tangled web! O'Connor's memoir begins with his childhood memories of life on the run with his parents and two sisters. The family mystery continues into his adulthood. The author skillfully takes his readers in the last third of the book on his journey as he delves into his family's past to uncover the mountain of secrets that his parents took with them to their graves. There's a powerful message of acceptance and forgiveness in O'Connor's story.
Sep 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir-biography
A compelling memoir, starring parents who were at best dreamers, and at worst, seriously deluded. My parents were also a little on the nutty side, and although their nuttiness manifested differently from Mr. O'Connor's parents, I identified with the family system of benevolent lies. The system says: this thing that looks, quacks, and walks like a duck, is in fact a rolltop desk, or a rare breed of hippo, or your grandmother, and you must act accordingly. It's a story with humor, and intrigue, an ...more
May 06, 2010 rated it liked it
Looking forward to reading this. My mother is loaning it to me after she said she couldn't put it down. It's being passed through the family as it's been written about the author's father and it turns out that he dated by grandmother back in the day. As the world turns....
Oct 22, 2007 rated it really liked it
Cool! Dysfunctional, paranoid family life on the run... Makes my family look normal!
Jennifer Busick
May 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2018
A gripping read. I lost a lot of sleep, trying to get to the end of this book!
Scott Lord
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
A great title for a book. Recalling life on the run from the child's perspective. The author held the secret of why the family was always on the run until the end. You find out the reason the same way he did. I enjoy reading family histories and this didn't disappoint.
Lisa Mettauer
Jul 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Crisis, Pursued by Disaster, Followed Closely by Catastrophe: A Memoir of Life on the Run is quite the title. And, coincidentally, it is quite the book. The author, Mike O’Connor, is a journalist who has worked for NPR, CBS and The New York Times covering conflicts from Central America to Yugoslavia to Israel and Palestine. He uses his journalistic talents to uncover a mystery that had torn his family apart, one that couldn’t be uncovered until both of his parents died.

About a year after his mot
Sep 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
This is a brave and touching book. Mike O'Connor and his sisters spend their childhoods on the run with their parents--some unseen, unknown adversary is pursuing them, but O'Connor does not solve the mystery until years after his parents' deaths. They live a life of paranoia and uncertainty, with nearly all odds against the children's future successes, yet the O'Connor siblings manage to create stable and productive lives of their own. To me, the most powerful and sad parts of the book were O'Co ...more
Jul 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
Mike O'Connor shares his story of an unconventional life growing up with parents who are constantly on the run, ready to pick up and move (often in the middle of the night)leaving behind belongings, pets and friends. Many times these moves were to a small town in Mexico where they lived a life hovering near poverty. After he grows up and becomes an investigative reporter for CBS, he uses his skills to solve the mystery about what made his parents run. Family secrets, dysfunctions, forgiveness an ...more
Jan 07, 2008 rated it liked it
I'm not a big reader of memoirs. Usually only if they are by historical or sports figures. This one isn't bad.
The author grew up knowing that his family was running from something, but not what. They would move to Mexico with only hours notice, leaving their house, belongings, even their pets behind. Panic would be just under the surface if they met with police officers, or authority figures of any kind.
It wasn't until his parents died that the author tries to investigate what they were running
Jan 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
The author, formerly a well-known journalist and reporter, writes the story of his life. His parents never explained the reasons that the family lived constantly on "alert" and in fear of authorities, fleeing from place to place for periods of time, until something happens to raise fear in his parents, and they are off again. His parents always tried to make it seem like the children were fortunate to have so many new experiences. but the children eventually came to resent the constant interrupt ...more
Mar 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I won this book on the Goodreads Giveaways. This is a memoir based on Mike O'Connors true life experiences. Mikes parents met and married while across seas, his father, a charismatic personality, serving in the military meets and marries hos true love. I thoroughly enjoyed Mike O'Connors narrative of his life experiences as he vividly describes his constant flight as a young boy; his family up and moving, throughout his growing up years, suddenly and without explanation, in a moments notice. He ...more
Mar 20, 2011 rated it liked it
Read this for a book discussion group and found it intriguing because of the "secret" undisclosed until the end of the book - the fear that drove this family to keep fleeing. Throughout it was hinted that there was an immigration problem and because of my work history, this was especially interesting. The suggestions that alcohol was toying with the family dynamics was also interesting, although the author did not delve deeply into this topic - either because it was too painful, or perhaps becau ...more
Jul 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
This book's secondary title is "A Memoir of Life on the Run." The author is an NPR and New York Times reporter who, along with his two sisters, was dragged from pillar to post by his parents who were running for an undisclosed reason. The family would pick up on a moment's notice, move to Mexico, live in abject poverty, and then return to America where first-class, private schools were the norm. Throughout his life, they moved repeatedly in this fashion.

After his parents died, his family prevail
Jul 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
Don't want to spoil it for anyone who might read it or repeat any of the summaries. It's a compelling story and one I'm not sure could happen today; given the many ways we are tracked I think it would be pretty hard to drop out of sight, at least for very long. What the author discovered through his years-long effort to understand his parents' situation profoundly affected his identity as an individual and as part of a family. Though his family stayed intact, in some ways the story is similar to ...more
Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
Great title, good premise, promising start, then it kind of fell apart. The problem was that there was a mystery looming over the book and instead of constructing it like a novel, where he feeds us new information and clues and perhaps even misdirection occasionally, he made it a straightforward memoir. His parents' mysterious behavior just gets annoying after awhile and the longer O'Connor dragged out the story, the more exciting and satisfying the payoff would have to be to justify the suspens ...more
Sep 04, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
A very interesting read, I kept reading because I wanted to find out what the big secret was.

I came to the same conclusion that the author did, if only his parents had stopped running and gotten a lawyer and gotten the mess settled at the beginning, such upheaval didn't have to be their lives. A great love story that came at a great cost.
Nov 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Phenomenal! An incredibly gripping and detailed account of the author's childhood in living "off the grid" while hiding from a seemingly pervasive threat, and not to be outdone by the author's exhausting and emotionally moving journey as an adult in uncovering his family's dark secrets and truth that shadowed a lifetime of deception. Even with all that, a cathartic ending with family love and forgiveness winning out.
Feb 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Goodread by a goodreads author ! I REALLY enjoyed this book. My heart goes out to the child that was forced to live life on the run without understanding why . My mind admires the man this child has become , not only for his ability to survive such a childhood , but his courage to find out and understand why .
Sep 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who liked The Prizewinner of Defianace, Ohio by Terry Ryan
While not the same story, this tale has the same flavor or feel as The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio. O'Connor spends about 2/3 of the book building up to why his family was on the run for so long -- interesting tale and fascinating info. regarding the historical period and what the country was like 30-60 years ago.
Aug 25, 2007 marked it as to-read
Memoir. Reviewed by People, they gave it 4 stars. Looks intriguing: "His mother and father...continually moved with their three kids...claiming the family was in danger. They never said why or who was chasing them, and O'Connor wouldn't discover the truth until after his parents died, when he'd become a reporter for the New York Times and NPR. Part memoir, part investigative journalism..."
Sep 23, 2007 rated it liked it
An interesting story, and not a book i would typically read, which I guess is partially why the score is lower than most of my others. I would definitely recommend this book if you are interested in Communism. I thought his note about the authenticity was great, and I definitely did not step away rom this memoir, as I do most, skeptically wondering if any of that really happened...
Aug 24, 2008 rated it liked it
The author takes a long time setting up his story... and the mystery behind his parents' paranoia. The payoff is interesting but I don't know that I'd have made it the whole way if I hadn't been reading this while watching Olympic boxing & marathon.
Dec 31, 2007 rated it really liked it
Memoir. This book was written so well I forgot it was about someone's real life and I kept wanting to read one more chapter to find out what the big secret was that his parents had been running from all those years.
Mar 06, 2008 rated it liked it
Fascinating memoir of a family on the run--but only the parents knew why. First part of book details the family's bizarre lifestyle from the oldest son's viewpoint; second part describes his search for the truth after both parents have died.
Bob Brooks
A great book! It's a real page turner that reads like a mystery and certainly keeps your attention as you never know what is going to happen next and like in any good mystery you don't know the whodunit or the whydunit until the book is just about finished.

Jun 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is a tragic story about a family on the run, and that impact on the kids. It's a memoir that the son wrote (recently) as an adult, who, after both his parents died, went back and after 10 years or so of investigating his family history discovered why they ran in the first place.
Aug 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
If you liked The Glass Castle, you will like this book about a boy and his childhood growing up on the run. The weird thing is he never knew what his parents were running from. As an adult, he uses all of his investigative journalistic skills to solve the mystery.
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