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I Love You Phillip Morris Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Miramax (June 25, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786869038
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786869039
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #411,490 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Steven Russell, the subject of this true crime story, is a rare individual, a genius who has run afoul of the law, a prodigious intellect endowed with boundless energy, audacity and guile. Russell pulled off his first jailbreak while waving a stolen walkie-talkie at a guard as he sauntered out the front gate, and his last escape-a feat of staggering self-discipline-by faking a terminal case of AIDS over several months and forging his own death certificate. Russell also walked out of prison and into a six-figure job as a CFO of a major company-twice. (The title of the book refers to Russell's only proven weakness-his steadfast love for one-time fellow convict Phillip Morris.) Journalist McVicker has written an unexceptional book about this exceptional man, but Russell's charisma-shining through lackluster prose-is what makes this offbeat biography a success. Like any great con man, Russell has a charm that is both disarming and overpowering, but his criminal antics are more effective and make for more interesting reading because they are coupled with unlikely virtues: sincerity, diligence, fidelity, affability. What McVicker does well is capture the accident of Russell's descent into criminality, a series of events that turned a once law-abiding husband, father and former police officer into one of the most innovative criminal minds in recent memory.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Steve McVicker is an award-winning journalist who has worked for the Houston Chronicle, National Public Radio, The New York Times, the Houston Press, and People. He lives in Texas. I Love You Phillip Morris is his first book.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 20 customer reviews
McVicker did a great job telling the story.
"glennjuenke68"
Combined with a stolen hospital shirt, the green-dyed pants looked like surgical scrubs.
Lisa Gray
After reading this book I learned that the reality was, if anything, more unbelievable.
Mitch

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Gray on July 3, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The amazing true story of con man and escape artist Steven Russell is the stuff movies are made of. A sample escapade: To escape from a Texas prison, he dropped a green Magic Marker into a sink full of water, then dunked his prison-uniform pants. Combined with a stolen hospital shirt, the green-dyed pants looked like surgical scrubs. Guards assumed Russell was a visiting doctor, and let Russell walk out of prison.
The books is full of such highjinks, including Russell's love story with Phillip Morris, a scrawny miscreant he met at the Harris County Jail.
But most fascinating of all is the character study of a highly successful liar. Says Russell: "I'm persuasive because I understand and listen to people. I study everything about a person. No detail is too small. People love to talk, and I love to listen. Listening to a person is the key to being able to outwit them."
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By H. F. Corbin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Had he come into the world 61 seconds earlier, he would have been born on Friday 13, a magic number for Steven Jay Russell, prison escape artist par excellence. That is the date he always chose to break out of prison if possible and the birthdate of his lover Phillip Morris in 1959 two years after the birth of Russell on September 14, 1957 in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Morris, the son of a Baptist preacher, was born in Blythe, Arkansas. Journalist Steve McVicker recounts the wild ride of this latter-day Bonnie and Clyde duo through several states and about as many prisons. Russell, the escape artist, has the skill of Houdini and the charm of the fictional Tom Ridley.

Mr. McVicker got the bulk of his information from interviews with Russell whom the author says he never caught in a lie. To his credit, McVicker does not try to analyze the reasons for what Russell did-- after all he is not a psychologist but a jouralist-- but lets Russell tell the events as he remembers them. Neither does Russell spend any time contemplating his own motives. "I live in my own little world. I build walls around me to keep from getting hurt. I don't understand why I'm like this. I've never tried to analyze it. It takes a lot of bumps in the road before I am able to trust another person." According to Russell, he has an I.Q. of 163. "Studyng people is a large part of what I do. . . When I talk to someone, I watch their eyes to see if they're looking at me in the eye or if they're drifting off somewhere else. I have to know that I can trust them before I know I can get them to trust me."

Russell first exhibited unusual behavior shortly after his parents told him when he was nine that he was adopted but that he was special. He soon proceeded to torch a cousin's parents' garage.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Julie Mason on August 13, 2003
Format: Hardcover
McVicker effortlessly blends excellent journalism with great writing and a suspenseful tale in this compelling, readable true-life adventure. The story is poignant without being mawkish, and hilarious without condescension.
Once I started, I couldn't put it down.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Scott R on September 10, 2003
Format: Hardcover
There's no doubting that this book is compelling, both in idea and execution. The prisoner who keeps returning for the man he loves? The life history of both? Good stories of prison breaks? Hard to keep a heist lover down. A solid, fun read, perfect for passing the time with a good story.
That said, McVicker's a writer for a (good) weekly alternative paper, and this book reads like an overlong story from those pages, filled up with anecdotes that go just this shy of deep. I'm just not as impressed with the depth of characterizations or the writing as I am with writings in a similar narrative vein.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jake Dyer on August 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover
McVicker reels in the reader immediately with this incredible but true story of embezzlement, jail breaks and crazy love. It's a top-notch book -- and one that's nearly impossible to put down.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By "glennjuenke68" on July 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed reading the book. It was full of interesting stories and very entertaining. It was amazing how the conman got away with what he did. I think this book would be a great movie. McVicker did a great job telling the story.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Miss Zelda on July 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
A fun, fascinating book about an incredibly intelligent con man.
The strange thing is how you find yourself rooting for Russell, even though he's a criminal -- after all, the reason he keeps getting caught is he can't help being in love. How can you fault someone for that?
McVicker has put together a page-turner. A definite must read!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Warren P on October 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I got the book as a result of the television series "I almost got away with it" and the episode "Got a boyfriend to support" I also had become aware of the movie version "I love you Phillip Morris" but when I saw that Jim Carrey was playing Steven Russell I passed on the movie version. Physically he doesn't match and with his way over the top personality I expect he slaughtered the part. Ewan McGreger I believe would have been good as Phillip Morris and fitted the part.

As for the book itself Steven Russell's story truly is the stuff of legend and the author delves back to his early life with his adoptive parents, his marriage to Debbie Davis a member of the fundamentalist Church of God, realising his sexuality, his time with the police service, the first failed effort to meet and know his birth mother followed by the coincidence of eventually meeting his natural birth siblings.

Being tested as a kid with an IQ of 163 Steven Russell had later also obviously grown a remarkable self confidence of how to fool people into believing he was someone he was not. The audacious escapes usually of Friday the 13th (also the birth date of Phillip Morris)

His careful planning, forging documents, his confident ability to apply himself to do any job and impersonate judges medical practitioners or anyone he chose made him the ultimate con man but for his Achilles' heel, that being the love for his male lovers James Kemple and later Phillip Morris. The book also reveals that in spite of what he put them through Steven Russell's ex wife and daughter remain defensive of him as he faces years of incarceration. No doubt a result of embarrassing the Texas prison system.
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