#NonfictionNovember continues with Ranger Games: A Story of Soldiers, Family and an Inexplicable Crime. I have to admit, I went into this one with a completely inaccurate general idea of what the book was about. I’m not sure how, or why, I misunderstood the premise of the story (I blame Doubleday for the marketing and cover design), but I think it threw me completely off and, eventually, ruined the book for me.
From the synopsis, I knew this was about a soldier who went rogue and robbed a bank. What I incorrectly assumed was that this incident was going to be related back to some conspiracy theory that the government is brainwashing these individuals into mindless people that will make them do whatever they are commanded to do (think Manchurian Candidate).
Whether this actually was the author’s intention or not, it wasn’t delivered. Alex Blum (ex-Ranger, convicted felon) knew exactly what he was doing that day he drove the getaway car for a bunch of bank robbers. Maybe it’s true that there are superior ranks that would make it tough to speak out against, but there were plenty of opportunities for Blum to remove himself from this situation (umm, like taking his scheduled flight home!). The whole book just felt like an excuse to remove blame from himself and to not accept responsiblity. (In full disclosure, Alex Blum does eventually accept responsiblity, but for me, it was too little too late.)
Ranger Games was written by Alex Blum’s cousin, Ben. Throughout the story, Ben inserts himself into the narrative – almost like he (childishly) needed to share the spotlight. It was unnecessary, distracting, and egotistical. This aspect alone is probably what turned me off the most about the entire book. I wish he would have just stuck to the Alex’s story and left himself and his family out of it. The family history added nothing to the context and instead made it seem like an opportunity to gain some self-importance.
It was unnecessarily long (400 pages) and had the Blum’s family history been cut out, the shortened length may have helped to save the overall book experience.
Lastly, in my opinion, this book was false advertising. They marketed it in a way to capture attention when the actual book was about somethings else entirely. I felt duped and that also is another reason I didn’t enjoy this book at all.