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​“The Magical Stranger is the true story of a boy chasing a ghost and stumbling into manhood. It is heartbreaking and funny, broken and hopeful, often on the same page.”

Judd Apatow


“An exemplary piece of modern reportage”

Tom Bissell, Harper's



“The Magical Stranger is one of the realest and best books I’ve read in the past several years.”

Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk



“Stephen Rodrick is possibly the best prose stylist alive.”

Wil S. Hylton, author of Vanished



“Stephen Rodrick’s The Magical Stranger illuminates the innate ties between fathers and sons in a fresh and fascinating way. . . . Rodrick’s firsthand knowledge thoroughly transports the reader into the hearts and

minds of U.S. servicemen and their families.”

Norman Ollestad, author of Crazy for the Storm

“Stephen Rodrick finds words for what I thought was inexpressible: the private language of a military family that experiences the worst kind of loss and finally creates a path forward. There’s no more authentic account of a military family. Required reading for an America that is continually considering the cost of combat.”

Alison Buckholtz, author of Standing By


“Stephen Rodrick exhibits courage, Catch-22 comedic flair, and unfailing emotional grasp in telling this powerful and surprising story. Anyone who wants to understand the sacrifices made by military families should read this book.”

Lily Burana, author of I Love a Man in Uniform

“Stephen Rodrick’s poignant tale blends memoir, reportage, and clean, crisp, unsentimental prose to produce a book that makes you think, even at times makes you laugh, but in the end tears your heart out. A truly fabulous book.”

Robert Timberg, author of The Nightingale's Song

“How does Stephen Rodrick manage to produce writing that is raw, heartbreaking, and beautifully-controlled, all at once, and on that most difficult of all topics: fathers and sons? Find out for yourself -- it’s time very well spent!”

Sean Wilsey, author of Oh the Glory of It All

“A wrenching, fascinating memoir, The Magical Stranger captures the elusive, sometimes crushing unease that haunts the lives of military families. It is written with the pace of a thriller and the emotional density of first-rate fiction.”

​Blake Bailey, author of Cheever

“This memoir of a son’s search to know his father is deeply moving, important and beautifully written. Rodrick has reminded us that the casualties of war remain long after the last mission is won.”

Danielle Trussoni, author of Falling Through the Earth

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