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A Bum Deal: An Unlikely Journey from Hopeless to Humanitarian Hardcover – September 1, 2010


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*Starred Review* For a few years in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Rufus Hannah was a movie icon. He was the star of Bumfights, a series of underground videos in which homeless people fought each other for money and booze (mostly booze). This moving autobiography, cowritten with Hannah’s friend Barry Soper, takes him from his early years as the son of alcoholic parents, through his time of homelessness and habitual drinking, to the present day (he now works as a property manager and travels the country giving talks for the National Coalition for the Homeless). But the book’s most fascinating and unsettling segment involves Hannah’s years as a participant in Bumfights: he was beating people up and performing extremely difficult stunts, all for the promise of beer (and a vaguer promise of a small fortune, further down the road). Hannah’s recollections of his mental state at the time, of “the monster inside my gut that needed alcohol so bad,” of feeling “more like a pig than a man,” are almost heartbreaking in their honesty and intensity. Expect this remarkable story of personal redemption to receive considerable media attention. --David Pitt

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"Hannah's recollections of his mental state at the time are almost heartbreaking in their honesty and intensity...remarkable story of personal redemption.


" - Booklist
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks (September 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402244711
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402244711
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #995,530 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
So compelling! Could not put it down. Rufus is amazing and Mr. Soper is really a saint. I have already told lots of friends about this great story. It really changed the way I look at the homeless. Those horrible kids who did the filming are contemptible but the people who bought those videos are just as bad. This book is so revealing. This deserves to be made into a movie!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By John Green, NCGBT VINE VOICE on September 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover
'A Bum Deal: A Memoir' is the story of the man who was the face of the infamous website BumFights, Rufus Hannah, aka Rufus the Stunt Bum. It chronicles his journey from early alcoholism and social misfit into a symbol of unrestrained greed and disregard for human life and finally a voice for others with similar troubles. It's a story that sounds clichéd in our times but still occurs all too often. And as is often the case, a human face and voice are what's needed to drive the issues home.

It almost seems Rufus was doomed from the start. Coming from southern working class parents with alcohol problems, he was born jaundiced due to his mother's drinking. Even so, they often resorted to the old southern remedy of lacing the baby bottle with vodka to keep the child quiet. Yet the parents instilled a work ethic into all of their children that served him well when little else did.

His journey takes him through failed marriages and jobs lost due to alcoholism across country and finally to San Diego where he meets Donnie, a fellow vet with similar problems. They migrate to Donnie's hometown of La Mesa where they manage an existence as the only homeless men in the town and are somewhat absorbed into the community. At the insistence of another resident they're hired on as handymen by Barry Soper, a local businessman. The three men are mistrustful of each other but over time they develop a real friendship- especially Rufus and Barry.

A chance encounter with a HS student with a video camera- Ryan McPherson- sets them on the path to notoriety together. Ryan's callousness towards the two men is apparent to Rufus from the start but as he supplies them with the necessities, namely booze, they feel obligated to go along.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin J. Haeck on September 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
How many times has any of us ever walked past a homeless man or woman on a street and wondered what it would take to help? This book shows the potential of taking that extra minute to help your fellow man. Rufus' remarkable journey both into and out of homelessness and the help he receives from a complete stranger who helps turn his life around are monuments to what humans are truly capable of, as much as the kids filming the fights also reveal what humans are truly capable of. The dynamics between the two make for a fascinating read and a story you will remember for a long time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Ray VINE VOICE on December 11, 2011
Format: Paperback
"A Bum Deal" chronicles the events in Rufus Hannah's life that result in him living as a homeless alcoholic. While existing with another homeless veteran in La Mesa, Rufus meets a sadistic high school kid who fancies himself an aspiring film maker. In exchange for booze and small sums of money, Rufus and his friend engage in increasingly violent and humiliating "stunts" for the camera, eventually resulting in a fight between the two that leaves one permanently disabled.

The "Bum Fights" video series that resulted garnered much publicity and controversy at the time, so surely some will pick up this book because of the association. Hannah's book is fascinating because he explains how alcoholism and bad decisions led to his participation, and ultimately how ultimately he got sober and turned his life around with the help of his co-author. Hannah's honesty is admirable in that he accepts responsibility for his actions and expresses genuine remorse, although he was also a victim. His descriptions of the sense of humiliation and regret he still faces about the "Bum Fights" videos is gut-wrenching.

Ultimately this story is one of hope, and is very inspirational. I read the book in one sitting, and highly recommend it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Rick Burgoon on September 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In times like these, with the economy pushing us all against the wall, when our political leaders seem out of touch and indifferent to what we are experiencing, when many of us are unsure how we can pay our bills or buy things we need, when we may be out of work and the world seems to be crashing in all around us, sometimes it takes the story of someone who really lived through Hell...and not only survived but prospered on his own, overcoming things that are REALLY hard -- to make us all realize that while our troubles are bad, they are not as bad as they seem. A Bum Deal provides the inspiration that many of us need in these troubles times to understand the ability of Man to overcome adversity and to achieve self-respect, love, peace and happiness. The love and friendship shown by the people in this book for each other, the simple acts of kindness that transformed hopelessness into victory, is more than simply inspirational. It is strong message that our love for each other can make the world a better place. This book reminds us that we can overcome anything thrust upon us, no matter how bad it may seem. A Bum Deal is a MUST read in these times. I highly recommend it.
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