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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A well told tale of one man's (ultimately tragic) obsession
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...
Published on 22 July 2011 by Dj Pike

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting but lengthy
Very interesting read in an area I know little about....but too lengthy....and how I feel for his long suffering wife!
Published 2 months ago by DesperateMum


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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A well told tale of one man's (ultimately tragic) obsession, 22 July 2011
By 
Dj Pike "dougpike2" (Leeds, Yorkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Ghost Runner: The Tragedy of the Man They Couldn't Stop (Paperback)
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.

Despite my surprise that this book was not written many years ago, I cannot help thinking that it is somehow apt that it appears now. Bill Jones concludes the book with an afterword that details some of the events that highlighted the end of amateurism in sport, including the reinstatement of Dwain Chambers to the GB team (compared to the ban on JT running for his country), and the appearance of a multi-millionaire professional Rafael Nadal in the Olympic Games tennis final. He does this I think mainly to hammer home the ridiculous nature of John Tarrant's treatment by the authorities, but it left me feeling almost as depressed about the state of sport today as it did about JT's trials back in the day. Full amateurism in sport clearly did not work, but neither I would argue does unfettered professionalism.

I highly recommend this book.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this book!, 6 July 2011
This review is from: The Ghost Runner: The Tragedy of the Man They Couldn't Stop (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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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, absorbing, powerful....truly tragic, 6 July 2011
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This review is from: The Ghost Runner: The Tragedy of the Man They Couldn't Stop (Paperback)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars When's the film coming out!?, 11 July 2011
This review is from: The Ghost Runner: The Tragedy of the Man They Couldn't Stop (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Strongly Recommend..., 21 July 2011
This review is from: The Ghost Runner: The Tragedy of the Man They Couldn't Stop (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Read, 15 July 2011
This review is from: The Ghost Runner: The Tragedy of the Man They Couldn't Stop (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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read, 26 July 2011
This review is from: The Ghost Runner: The Tragedy of the Man They Couldn't Stop (Paperback)
The Ghost Runner is a fascinating story and in addition a brilliant insight into amateur athletes of that time. You can see that Bill Jones has thoroughly researched his subject the person John Tarrant, and how the media reacted to him, along with the authorities' response to the pressure he put on them, he was their Achilles heel. The story did not predominantly come from John Tarrant's point of view, but with the thoughts of those who came in contact with John, and the memories of friends and family are well documented making this a heart-warming human story.

Endemic of the time, widespread elitism, and superiority and down right snobbery forged a heavy backpack for John; he may come across as selfish in some parts of his life but his stamina and dogged determination was spellbinding to read, I actually felt exhausted; I was thoroughly absorbed through the whole journey.

It is a well-structured methodical book to read and I found it very hard to put down; I defy anyone not to cry especially in the last section. I will be recommending this to many, you don't have to be an athlete to enjoy it. Love to see it on the big screen.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ghost Runner, 23 July 2011
Unbelievable story hard to realise that it is fact not fiction couldnt put the book down and have to admit it made me cry and i already knew alot of the story ............. what a film it would make .....JTs wife Edie is an amazing lady as well .
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A simply unbelievable & heartbreaking story, 6 Oct 2011
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This review is from: The Ghost Runner: The Tragedy of the Man They Couldn't Stop (Paperback)
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A terrific book! Read it!, 7 Oct 2011
This review is from: The Ghost Runner: The Tragedy of the Man They Couldn't Stop (Paperback)
This is a fascinating and moving account that relentlessly draws you in.....an account of "an ordinary bloke who stood up for what was right" in a struggle against bureaucracy and snobbery and injustice and racism. It is a tale mainly set in the monochromic rawness of post war England when working men sold their pet rabbits to raise the bus fares to run in races, and the woman's place was in the kitchen where according to Women's Own, "day after day you made with your hands the gift of love"! And an honest working man, John Tarrant, fought for the right to be recognised as an athlete and to run for his country.

It is a serious story but there are knee-hugging moments of delight!.....the principle of sportsmanship as once perceived by the Corinthian Casuals, leaving their goal empty when penalties were awarded against them (penalties? against them? shurely not!); and the belief by some in the last century that TB could be caused by "excessive masturbation"! Great stuff!

But the well- told story of this true life hero is one that reminds us that people's rights have always had to be fought for, and we should be grateful to men like John Tarrant for their bloody-mindedness and courage. It seems an apt book for the present times.
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The Ghost Runner: The Tragedy of the Man They Couldn't Stop
The Ghost Runner: The Tragedy of the Man They Couldn't Stop by Bill Jones (Paperback - 7 July 2011)
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