Karen Hollander is a celebrated attorney who recently removed herself from consideration for appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. Her reasons have their roots in 1968—an episode she’s managed to keep secret for more than forty years. Now, with the imminent publication of her memoir, she’s about to let the world in on that shocking secret—as soon as she can track down the answers to a few crucial last questions.
As junior-high-school kids back in the early sixties, Karen and her two best friends, Chuck and Alex, roamed suburban Chicago on their bikes looking for intrigue and excitement. Inspired by the exotic romance of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels, they acted out elaborate spy missions pitting themselves against imaginary Cold War villains. As friendship carries them through childhood and on to college—in a polarized late-sixties America riven by war and race as well as sex, drugs, and rock and roll—the bad guys cease to be the creatures of make-believe. Caught up in the fervor of that extraordinary and uncanny time, they find themselves swept into a dangerous new game with the highest possible stakes.
Today, only a handful of people are left who know what happened. As Karen reconstructs the past and reconciles the girl she was then with the woman she is now, finally sharing pieces of her secret past with her national-security-cowboy boyfriend and Occupy-activist granddaughter, the power of memory and history and luck become clear. A resonant coming-of-age story and a thrilling political mystery, True Believers is Kurt Andersen’s most ambitious novel to date, introducing a brilliant, funny, and irresistible new heroine to contemporary fiction.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By connie on 19-07-12
very listenable political mystery/ romance
This is romance in the people-in-love sense but more a romance of the 60s. With a 2013 setting, the action revolves around research into the past, so it???s a tale told through filtered memory and research - just like history. The 64 yr old law prof main character writes a memoir to set the record straight on her 60s activism before she starts to lose her memory, and knowing "how memory and history are sugar coated," she tries to arrive at the truth. The mystery is secondary to the social history and coming of age detail.
In places the main storyline was weak and implausible - but I was too busy enjoying the descriptions of the 60s to notice most of the time. The novel tries too hard to make witty observations on culture then and now, but I enjoyed that part too - can't have an easy read and perfect philosophy in the same novel. There is reflection on the evolution of the left and on big brother technology. I thought there was little too much chatty detail about the main character coming of age and she was a little too Forrest Gump-ish in her witness to the iconic events of the time.
This might be a much different listen for different generations, from the late middle-aged reconstructing their own biography by the cultural landmarks used by the law prof to contemporaries of the prof???s granddaughter whose first memory = 9/11. As
a tale of 60s activism revisited, I give a slight edge to Neil Gordon???s The Company You Keep, but I still loved almost every minute of this listen.
6 of 7 people found this review helpful
By LM on 26-01-13
Sensational, satisfying, and intelligent!!!
I read this book after finishing Ian McEwan's Sweet Tooth thinking nothing could equal the satisfaction of that intelligent and brilliant book about stories themselves. But True Believers met the match! Both books are rich with complex ideas to grapple with and the readers provide an even deeper level of satisfaction as they seem to perfectly inhabit the protagonist's voice. Being a 57-year-old, I remember the tensions and intrigues of the past with both fear and sentimentality, so these books had particular resonance and significance. Both books deliver all the pleasures of Ian Fleming's 007 while True Believers in particular offers deep reflections on the psyche of a generation. This is not just a GREAT book, but offers a valuable image to explain the American consciousness.
Sweet Tooth and True Believers make a great double-billing with their similarity of content, although different in subject. A follow-up read of Sotomayor's "My Beloved World," makes for a trifecta!
1 of 1 people found this review helpful