Marathon Man, by William Goldman


William Goldman’s Marathon Man broke ground in 1976 when the action thriller novel was published. Goldman was a successful author well known especially for writing the Princess Bride and  Butch Cassidy and the Sundance. The book was good but not as smooth as today’s thriller novelists like Lee Child, Dean Koontz and others.


 Kid A former Nazi SS dentist at Auschwitz, Dr. Christian Szell, now residing in Paraguay, has been living on the proceeds of diamonds he extorted from prisoners there. The diamonds are kept at a bank in New York by his father. The sales and transfers of proceeds are facilitated by a secret US agency called "The Division" for whom Szell has provided information about other escaped Nazis. When his father dies in a car accident, Szell must come to New York himself to retrieve the diamonds, as there is no one else he can trust with them.

"Tom" Levy, known by his brother as "Babe" is a postgraduate student at Columbia University in history and an aspiring marathon runner. His brilliant academic father, H.V. Levy committed suicide after persecution under McCarthyism. Levy is working on his PhD dissertation which he believes will clear his father’s name. His older brother, Hank, also known as Doc, is involved with a former Nazi Dr. Christian Szell who lives in Paraguay and is hiding illegal diamonds with Doc’s help. Doc by the way is known as Scylla to his Nazi associate.

Szell comes to New York, but he is certain that Scylla is planning to kill him, so he stabs him leaving him for dead, but Szell makes it to his brothers apartment before he dies. When Szell finds that out, he tries to kill Scylla.  Tom skills as an aspiring marathon man are a big help to him.

The plot has a lot of twists and turns and was exciting, but it was also hard to follow.

Quotes from the works of William Goldman

“Someone pointed out to me that the most sympathetic characters in my books always died miserably. I didn't consciously know I was doing that. I didn't. I mean, I didn't wake up each morning and think, today I think I'll make a really terrific guy so I can kill him.” - William Goldman

“Any experience is profitable if you allow it to be, all actions are profitable, no matter how badly you may suffer from them.”
—Marathon Man

“Have you ever failed?
Only in life.”
—The Ghost and the Darkness (Goldman script)

“All non-denial denials—we’re dirty guys and they doubt we were ever virgins but they don’t say the story is inaccurate.”
—All the President’s Men (Goldman script)

“If he’d just pay me what he’s spending to make me stop robbing him, I’d stop robbing him.”
—Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (Goldman script)

“Boy, y’know, every time I see ‘Hole in the Wall’ again, it’s like seeing it fresh for the first time, and every time that happens, I keep asking myself the same question, ‘How can I be so damn stupid as to keep comin’ back here?'”
—Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (Goldman script)

“We’re under a lot of pressure, too, and you put us there–not that I want it to worry you–nothing’s riding on you except the First Amendment of the Constitution plus the freedom of the press plus the reputation of a hundred-year-old paper plus the jobs of the two thousand people who work there—(still building)—but none of that counts as much as this: you fuck up again, I’m gonna lose my temper.
—All the President’s Men (Goldman script)

Use Buy Button to Buy this Book on Amazon

Marathon Man: A Novel
By William Goldman