• Ranger Games

  • A Story of Soldiers, Family and an Inexplicable Crime
  • By: Ben Blum
  • Narrated by: Johnathan McClain
  • Length: 16 hrs and 3 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (155 ratings)

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Ranger Games  By  cover art

Ranger Games

By: Ben Blum
Narrated by: Johnathan McClain
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Publisher's Summary

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 US Army Ranger, and fight terrorists for his country. He poured everything into achieving his dream. In the first hours of his final leave before deployment to Iraq, Alex was supposed to fly home to see his family and beloved girlfriend. Instead, he got into his car with two fellow soldiers and two strangers, drove to a local bank in Tacoma, and committed armed robbery....

The question that haunted the entire Blum family was: Why? Why would he ruin his life in such a spectacularly foolish way?

At first, Alex insisted he thought the robbery was just another exercise in the famously daunting Ranger program. His attorney presented a case based on the theory that the Ranger indoctrination mirrored that of a cult.

In the midst of his own personal crisis, and in the hopes of helping both Alex and his splintering family cope, Ben Blum, Alex's first cousin, delved into these mysteries, growing closer to Alex in the process. As he probed further, Ben began to question not only Alex but the influence of his superior, Luke Elliot Sommer, the man who planned the robbery. A charismatic combat veteran, Sommer's manipulative tendencies combined with a magnetic personality pulled Ben into a relationship that put his loyalties to the test.

©2017 Ben Blum (P)2017 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"On a simple level, Ranger Games is about Ben Blum's obsessive quest to understand why his 19-year-old cousin participated in an inexplicable, ham-handed bank robbery that landed him in prison and nearly destroyed the people he loved. But there is nothing simple about Blum's book. It turns out to be a labyrinthine, utterly engrossing meditation on matters as seemingly disparate as the perils of loyalty, the seductive force of mathematical certainty, the toxicity of 'honor', the Stanford Prison Experiment, the weirdness of daytime television, and the dangerous power of family mythology. It is an astonishing book, unlike anything else I have ever read." (Jon Krakauer, New York Times best-selling author of Missoula and Into Thin Air)
" Ranger Games is a rare and totally original work of nonfiction. The odd characters and dangerous situations live vibrantly in these pages and the stakes are always high. Ben Blum's search for truth leads him down many paths into an inner turmoil and boil about family, fidelity, identity, good and evil, and military service. Once you start reading you won't put it down." (Anthony Swofford, New York Times best-selling author of Jarhead and Hotels, Hospitals, and Jails: A Memoir)
"Ben Blum's achievement in this relentlessly gripping book is to make an incredible story entirely credible. If many of the serial revelations and twists are subtle and nuanced rather than spectacular that only adds to the sense of his narrative command and assurance." (Geoff Dyer, National Book Critics Circle Award Winner and author of Otherwise Known as the Human Condition and White Sands)

What listeners say about Ranger Games

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Don't waste your time with this book!

I wanted to stop listening to this book almost from the very beginning, but I thought I would listen to all of it so that I gave it every opportunity to show some value. The book never did show any value at all for me!
This book is written by a liberal cupcake that spends 13 plus hours blabbering on about his dysfunctional family, while disrespecting the US Military and the President of the United States. Overall, this book is a waste of time!

4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Less of a crime drama more of a family drama

Makes you realize all crime stories aren't as cut and dry as you would think.

I just wish the author would have stuck more to the circumstances surrounding the crime and characters surrounding the actors involved than needlessly inserting himself into the narrative much more than necessary.

Author inserts his political opinion in two quick blurbs that have nothing to do with anything other than TDS.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Real Life Crime Drama

Ben Blum struggled with his familial duty to stand by his cousin and his scientific mind's need to know all the root causes and details. As he digs, he shares his feelings and the effects of the events on family. I love how well he writes and how he relays all the information as he learns it, bit by bit.

The voice actor was great, for the most part. He shouted too much; yes, the text was emotional, but that doesn't have to mean yelling. Loved his range of accents and tones.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Good book but a bit hard to get through

This is a good book but as I mentioned in the title it is hard at times to get through. The writer is so thorough that there are times where he could have kept the story flowing but instead he got off onto very detailed and long tangents that I don’t think at times helped the story. I respect the effort, but at times way over done, just TMI.
The story is an interesting, sad & crazy tale but there are times you can see that he (the writer) has his own issues to work out, not just his cousins, what his cousin did or his families take on the world.
If you have an affiliation or interest in/with growing up in Colorado, playing on hockey teams while growing up or the military, then I think you’ll enjoy this book. If I had to pay full price for this audiobook an not had a credit to use, I would not of been very happy, but because I had available credits and I was looking for something new and different, this hit the mark..... mostly.

1 person found this helpful

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  • GB
  • 06-20-22

Excellent story, on point narration

As someone associated with this military community, I was absolutely intrigued by this book. The narrator absolutely nails the spirit of the book, and emotional passages are read with an emphasis that adds to the experience (not easy). The author describes a journey for truth in a compelling manner, even for those in the mental health or legal fields. I will cut this off here - it's a great listen that made me want to make more and more time for it. If you're on the fence, go for it.

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avoid this book

this book is clearly written by someone who knows nothing about the military. that's usually not a bad thing, but the author is clearly biased to believe his cousin despite how ridiculous the story is. the author also tries to quote military theorists to paint his cousins crimes as understandable. but he completely misses the whole theory clausewitz and tzu mean

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Accurate depiction of RIP and life at Battalion

The best part of this book is the description of RIP and Battalion. The rest is sort of hard to buy into.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Entertaining Story

I think this was a well done story that intertwined a great deal more detail than just the plot line that really engaged the reader in journey of curiosity.

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Entertaining

This book was whining at some points and maybe too long.
Tried to get political at times and was not needed.
Narrator did a great job.
The first half of the book was best. The second half seemed to be a search for how to end the book.

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nonfiction drama with many twists and turns

This is a really interesting coming of age story of a young man trapped between doing right and potentially embarrassing himself if he exercises moral courage. I don't want to ruin the denouement, but this book has very satisfying twists and turns. Capturing one's "truth" turns out to be very difficult and the writing here is excellent. how we are ourselves and how we want to see ourselves can be two very different things, and the author captures this tension very well.

the performance was great. this is one of my favorite audible books. I completed the 16 hour book in about a week.