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The Ghost Runner: The Tragedy of the Man They Couldn't Stop Paperback – 7 Jul 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Mainstream Publishing; Reprint edition (7 July 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845966066
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845966065
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.6 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 89,189 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"A terrific story - a comic strip hero made flesh, with all the human complications that entails" (Daily Mail)

"Tarrant's poignant story is wonderfully refreshing and beautifully told" (The Sun)

"A fantastic story of the underdog" (Metro)

"Makes fascinating reading" (Manchester Evening News)

"Bill Jones used to make documentaries, and he retains that discipline's eye for telling details and evocative shots" (The Times)

Book Description

The true and heartbreaking story of a man the world came to know as The Ghost Runner

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Dj Pike on 22 July 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Despite being a runner for many years, and a sports fan for all of my life, I had never heard of John Tarrant prior to being introduced to this book. Having now completed Bill Jones' biography of the man I find this quite surprising, and also find it rather amazing that it has taken over 35 years since his sad premature passing for someone to tell the story (apart from the publication of Tarrant's own memoirs in the late 1970's).

For those as much in the dark as me John Tarrant was, in short, a talented long distance runner who in the late 1950s was barred from amateur running competitions by the authorities of the day after (rather foolishly, in hindsight) owning up to recieving a grand total of £17 for contesting boxing matches in his local town. He then took it upon himself to turn up and compete in races anyway, without an official entry, and was subsequently dubbed 'The Ghost Runner'. Haunted by exclusion in one way or another for the rest of his life, he eventually found himself immersed in the world of ultra distance running (i.e. much longer than a Marathon!).

Bill Jones describes beautifully how a single punitive act could come to dominate one man's thinking, almost to the exclusion of everything else (e.g. employment, his family life), and yet also be a significant driving force behind some astounding feats of endurance. The story is told largely chronologically from Tarrant's troubled childhood to his early passing, skillfully intertwining many interesting (real) characters along the way; and by the end of the book Jones' really has you rooting for his man. No punches are pulled however (no pun intended, honest) with the author leaving the reader in no doubt that his subject was often a difficult and troubled man.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By jenny j on 6 July 2011
Format: Paperback
Bill Jones has created a poignant book which vividly recreates the life of this talented athlete whose life was so blighted by the establishment. The story is well written and I was so involved I stayed up into the night to finish it. You would be a hardhearted person not to be moved by the life and death of this incredible man. Read it - you will not be disappoined.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By gumblebones on 6 July 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wept when I'd finished this book. The story is so tragic and engrossing, it's almost impossible to believe it's true. For a few quid earned as a teenage boxer, this man's dreams were ruined by people who should have known better. Some of the stories and characters in it are amazing. Definitely not just a book for sports-lovers either. I honestly couldn't put it down. Great stuff. A 100% recommend.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By currysboy on 11 July 2011
Format: Paperback
I try not to make a habit of weeping in coffee shops, but the final pages of this moving book had me sobbing into my cappuccino. This story of heart-wrenching injustice and steely determination to triumph over seemingly insurmountable obstacles transcends sport. I doubt there is an individual out there that would not be inspired by this epic true story, and surely everyone can relate to this working-class hero. Brilliantly written. Impossible to put down. Put this to the top of your 'to read' list NOW!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By benb on 21 July 2011
Format: Paperback
Not big on biographies and certainly not big on extreme running, but picked up 'The Ghost Runner' on holiday and couldn't put it down until I'd finished.

Like all the most compelling sports stories, it's the human story beneath the statistics that really intrigues.

The portayal of Tarrant as an angry young man of the 50s, frustrated by the lingering and hypocrital class system that he percieved denied him the right to fulfil his potential is apt. Though it's also clear Tarrant was no 'working-class hero': the writer's unromanticised narrative leaves the reader in no doubt about the destructive consequences of Tarrant's obbsession to compete at the highest level.

Jones' prose is crisp, economical and always engaging. The accompanying photos illuminate further the tragic nature of Tarrant's life and death.

So, if you're an athlete searching for big race inspiration or just someone who enjoys a thoroughly good read- I recommend this book. Enjoy!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By JohnT2 on 15 July 2011
Format: Paperback
I have recently read this book and found it a truly difficult book to put down, it is very fast paced and although it deals with a lot of running aspects it is more of a human interest story than a sports publication. I do think that people from a running background will appreciate the (phenomenal) level of training and dedication more than non runners but I don't think that this will detract from the overall story. There are a wide range of emotions throughout the book; the descriptions about the places that John Tarrant ran around, worked at or lived in really draw you in to the feeling of the book. The ending is very emotive, it leaves a strong feeling of unfairness and a very conclusive feeling that the ban and continued disregard of `the ghost runner' were massive perversions of justice, I really enjoyed this book and would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By SportsBioFan on 6 Oct. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have read many, many sports biographies. Many, even if well-written, rarely affect one's emotions. I finished this book yesterday and was close to tears by the end of it.

The subject of the book, long-distance runner John Tarrant, had such persistently bad misfortune that despite his apparent pig-headedness and his lack of emotion, you cannot help but feel pity as the book charts his life story. Not all doom and gloom by any means - the book is ultimately a moral in the triumph of unwavering spirit - but it does make the reader aware of just what level of hardship Mr. Tarrant endured from cradle to grave.

Bill Jones has achieved an excellent balance of narration, speculation and reference of source material. The author has clearly dedicated significant time to the life of John Tarrant, and leaves no stone unturned. The struggle Tarrant faced to become an accepted competitor took him across the world and Jones re-creates that path faithfully; all the while assessing, via first-hand accounts, the effects that Tarrant's obsession with running caused him both mentally and physically.

This book is so good that it transcends sports afficionados, historical hunter-gatherers and running freaks alike - it is a story that absolutely anyone can marvel at; even if their interest in sport is negligible.

An inspirational book that has pride of place on my biography bookshelf.
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