My father, beginning at age fourteen, rode freight trains through America during much of the Great Depression. No one knew why, but it wasn't because he was poor. My Uncle Brooks, the person he was closet to on earth, was the family's brightest star. But as with everything else about the Oakleys, that was very much less than the whole of his story. My Uncle Ralph was a gangster. He could have been any other kind of exceptional success, but he was by choice "in the rackets" as he once boastfully proclaimed to me in the horrified presence of his adoring and wonderful mother, Ada. And while I empathized with my grandmother's distress and dejection, I was fascinated and intrigued by his candid announcement. The way he choose to do it said a whole lot about our family. This book is a gallery of portraits done in prose, a window into the intimate interactions of our family. Runners is historical fiction; the characters are real members of my family; the narrative is based almost completely on stories they told me themselves. Runners is a depiction of American families, then and now.
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Phil Oakley is a novelist and veteran journalist with experience in the motion picture industry. He is a retired regional executive with The Walt Disney Company (ABC News), a former director of the Louisiana Film Commission and a retired editor with the Dallas Morning News. He covered presidents and presidential campaigns beginning with Lyndon Johnson and ending with George W. Bush. He was a television and radio anchor and reporter with national awards from Columbia University, the Radio-Television News Directors Association and the National Headliner Award program in Atlantic City. He began work on his first novel in 1964 while a student at the University of Texas at Austin. In all he has written seven novels.
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