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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wilder Than Fiction
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...
Published on July 3, 2003 by Lisa Gray

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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well Told and True about a Jail Breaker and Con Man in Love
The story is told straightforwardly-- not overcrowded with detail. It's like a long version of a McVicker article in the alternative weekly the Houston Press, such an article almost certainly being the genesis of this tome. For all of Russell's truly amazing feats as a jail breaker and a con man. that his cynical thievery is punctuated by and contrasts with his apparent...
Published on July 15, 2010 by Gulf Coast Bob


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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wilder Than Fiction, July 3, 2003
By 
Lisa Gray (Houston, TX United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: I Love You Phillip Morris (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
5.0 out of 5 stars A Look at an Escape Artist, March 30, 2010
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This review is from: I Love You Phillip Morris (Hardcover)
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. And as an adult, he remembers when he made a conscious decision to lead a life of crime. He had previously been married, had become a father and had run the family business, been a police officer-- before being arrested by a vice squad officer for solicitation for sex-- and even been a church organist.

It is almost as if Russell breaks out of prison multiple times for the sheer joy of outsmarting law officials. At various times during his wild ride, he impersonates a prison physician, an attorney and a police officer. He even fakes an AIDS diagnosis and his death in order to escape. During Russell's long life of crime, however, he never becomes violent or hurts another person. He is also capable of great affection towards those people he cares about: his wife, his child, a lover he takes care of during that lover's long illness with AIDS and, of course, Phillip Morris.

There are few dull moments in Russell's life of crime which McVicker narrates in spare, to-the-point prose. Now we have the movie version with Jim Carrey as Russell and Ewan McGregor playing Phillip Morris. If the film is half as good as this book, it will be well worth seeing.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars bravo!, August 13, 2003
By 
jules (Washington, D.C. United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: I Love You Phillip Morris (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
4.0 out of 5 stars it's fluffy, sure, but a heist book is a heist book, September 10, 2003
By 
Scott R (Seattle, WA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: I Love You Phillip Morris (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
5.0 out of 5 stars There's no escaping it: this jail break book is a great read, August 15, 2003
By 
Jake Dyer (Austin, TX United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: I Love You Phillip Morris (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
5.0 out of 5 stars A Good Ride, July 9, 2003
By 
Miss Zelda (Houston, TX USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: I Love You Phillip Morris (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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good reading for Jail and Law Enforcement Employees, July 21, 2003
By 
"glennjuenke68" (Clear Lake (houston)) - See all my reviews
This review is from: I Love You Phillip Morris (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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable story., October 15, 2011
By 
Warren P (Sydney , NSW Australia) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: I Love You Phillip Morris (Hardcover)
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a manic joyride, October 10, 2003
By 
claudia kolker (houston, texas United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: I Love You Phillip Morris (Hardcover)
The wild story of a conman who favors doctored resumes and red stretch pants as props to steal whatever he desires. He just can't outwit his sentimental heart. I read it in one sitting.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Read!, June 1, 2011
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This review is from: I Love You Phillip Morris (Hardcover)
I SO enjoyed this book! The factual story was fascinating to read about, and I enjoyed every single page! I highly recommend this fantastic book.
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I Love You Phillip Morris
I Love You Phillip Morris by Steve McVicker (Hardcover - June 25, 2003)
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