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The Company You Keep

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  555 Ratings  ·  99 Reviews
Set against the rise and fall of the radical antiwar group the Weather Underground, The Company You Keep is a sweeping American saga about sacrifice, the ecstatic righteousness of youth, and the tension between political ideals and family loyalties. When Jason Sinai, one of the last Vietnam-era fugitives still wanted on murder charges for a robbery gone wrong in 1974, enco ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published June 29th 2004 by Penguin Books (first published June 30th 2003)
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Aug 17, 2007 Laura rated it did not like it
In fairness, I got about two-thirds of the way through this one and skipped to the end to see how it wound up. For a book that seemed like it should be so narrative-driven, it was written in an awfully turgid style. There were some interesting plot twists at the beginning, and for a while, the hope of more kept me going for a little while, but it seems that a book that's supposed to be sort of a political thriller shouldn't be quite this ponderous to slog through.
Dec 10, 2012 Zora rated it did not like it
Dull, dull, dull. Admittedly, I didn't finish this. (also, I'm not pals with or related to the author.) Up through chapter 22, nothing had happened, not one single thing, no plot, no narrative drive, no profound human insights. Nada. When I'd read for the umpteenth time a father nattering on cloyingly about his daughter's sweet little toes and sweet little clothes and sweet little blahblahblah, I threw it across the room with great force. Life is too short to finish badly-written books.
Dec 04, 2015 Andrea rated it did not like it
Yes, I tend to flee from epistolary novels; the format almost always requires the writer to resort to bald artifice in order to tell the damn story. On top of that, few authors manage to create distinct and convincing writing styles for the different characters corresponding. Well, this novel stumbles on all counts, and it's made even worse by the ridiculous e-mail by committee venture, wherein one member picks up where the last one left off, telling the story inch by bloody inch, pussy-footing ...more
Michael O'Toole
Dec 10, 2012 Michael O'Toole rated it it was amazing
Set in the 90s, this dramatic thriller follows civil rights attorney Jim Grant who's in the midst of a custody battle for his seven year old daughter with his recovering drug addict ex-wife. After the arrest of Weather Underground activist fugitive, Sharon Solartz, young, ambitious reporter Ben Schulberg who's assigned to write the story interviews Grant, who refused to represent Solarz after she contacted him. Later, after finding out that Grant left town with his daughter, Isabel, Schulberg so ...more
The Company You Keep (2012), directed by Robert Redford, with

Robert Redford ... Jim Grant / Nick Sloan
Shia LaBeouf ... Ben Shepard
Julie Christie ... Mimi Lurie
Susan Sarandon ... Sharon Solarz
Nick Nolte ... Donal Fitzgerald
Chris Cooper ... Daniel Sloan
Terrence Howard ... FBI Agent Cornelius
Stanley Tucci ... Ray Fuller
Richard Jenkins ... Jed Lewis
Anna Kendrick ... Diana
Brendan Gleeson ... Henry Osborne
Brit Marling ... Rebecca Osborne
Sam Elliott ... Mac McLeod
Mark Hundley
Jul 14, 2013 Mark Hundley rated it liked it
Competent but not spectacular epistolary novel that uses the backdrop of the Weather Underground as a frame for mystery and examination of the motives of revolutionaries. Despite the research that went into the effort, it comes off superficially in its presentation of the time and motivations. New insights into the era are absent and characterizations of the individuals lack distinction but all this seems consistent with a page-turner effort.
Jun 05, 2013 Janebbooks rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Set against the rise and fall of the Weather Underground, the antiwar group of the Vietnam War era, THE COMPANY YOU KEEP is a sweeping American saga about sacrifice, the ecstatic righteousness of youth, and the tension between political ideals and family loyalties. Here's what's going on...

Jason Sinai...age having a bad day or two in the early summer of 1996. He likes his life as Jim Grant, a civil rights attorney in Albany, New York. He loves his 7 year old daughter Izzy...and is a cari
Carol Tensen
Mar 24, 2015 Carol Tensen rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Recently a friend of mine gifted me with a copy of The Company You Keep. As someone who went to college during the late sixties, early seventies, the historical background (SDS/Weather Underground) intrigued me. I remember many of the names quoted: Diane Oughton, Kathleen Soliath, Susan Sterns, I even remember having conversations with Silas Trim Bissell at the UW hub. So I was eager to read it. And indeed I did plow through the first hundred pages. Oddly when James Hall, the upstate NY attorney ...more
May 01, 2013 Michael rated it really liked it
In the end, this book is a magnificent read into life in modern America. Fighting wars we don't understand and frustrated with government, we face the same issues today as the nation faced then during Vietnam. It is told in the epistolary model, however, unlike in old days when these types of novels unfolded through a series of letters exchanged between two or more people, this one is told through a series of e-mails from a group called "The Committee". I don't want to ruin anyone's experience, ...more
Jul 17, 2012 Connie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: war-novels
Two story devices work well in this that often fail: multiple narrators and modified epistolary novel format; the narrative is built by a very long email chain (in detail that could not possible exist in that format, but it’s so engagingly written that you can suspend your disbelief).

It’s a message to the millennial generation and a reminder to all of American 20th century social and political history; It also wants to echo current events. It’s a mystery, love stories, and both a novel of ideas
The Lady Inquisitor
Jan 06, 2015 The Lady Inquisitor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: political enthusiasts,people looking for a good history,people that like well written characters
Recommended to The Lady Inquisitor by: bought it myself
I'm not a fan of books about politics. Or at least,I wasn't one. After reading this novel there's a big chance i'll keep reading more and more about the subject.

The story is set around Jim Grant,a seemingly ordinary lawyer with an ordinary life. A caring father,a good professional. But e-mail after e-mail we see his life changing and how much the fight for liberty can cost.

The story is all written in e-mails,which i thought was a really innovating and interesting form. Also points to Neil Gordon
Kristen Schrader (Wenke)
I'm not a fan of the "email by committee" format. I think it would have been simpler as either a straightforward telling of the story, or as one long letter from her father.

While I liked the main mystery - Jason going on the run from the police, and why does he need to see Mimi so badly? - everything else just dragged. If Gordon streamlined the story (again, probably by just having Jason tell it), then I think I would have enjoyed it more, rather than just finishing it to finish it.
Linda L
Aug 07, 2013 Linda L rated it it was amazing
I loved it and want to see the movie. A complex narrative told though multiple voices in an email format. It's a Vietnam, sixties protest story which got confusing if I didn't chart out the characters who had multiple names as many were Weatherground fugitives. Sadly parallels so much of what's still happening though.
LL Dunn
Jan 24, 2015 LL Dunn rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. Thanks, Cynthia. A detailed telling of the story of Weathermen from the early 70's. Great character development, wonderful twists of plot. Engrossing.
Harold Walker
Dec 12, 2016 Harold Walker rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book, I really did. The subject matter is compelling and the plot itself is pretty interesting but the writing is so tedious I had to force myself to finish it. The novel is written as a series of emails in a style that no one would ever use to write an email. This would have been so much more readable if it had just been written in the third person and had been about 40% shorter. There were some really great passages buried in there. Gordon is a good writer and it really s ...more
Nov 17, 2016 Nadia rated it did not like it
Shelves: didnt-finish
got through a little bit and didn't like it
Sim Carter
I am so looking forward to the film based on this book! Gordon wrote the novel as a modern-day epistolary; a series of (incredibly long and well-written) emails to 17 year old Isabel, mostly from her father, Jim Grant, an ex-Weatherman living as a civil rights lawyer, as he desperately tries to clear his name from a murder charge stemming from his past acts. Ironic as he has gone through several names throughout his life. Others - friends, former lovers, a young newspaperman and various key figu ...more
Dec 29, 2008 Ciara rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of political thrillers, underground fugitives from justice, weather underground devotees
oooh, i am really into this book. you kind of have to get past the gimmicky fact that it is comprised entirely of e-mails, & that no one really writes that eloquently when they are writing e-mail, but whatever. i'll let it slide this one time. okay, so the story is pretty complex: the guy who instigates all of this e-mail writing is a fellow named daniel. the e-mails are being written to his daughter, who is around 18. she lives in england with her mother, a formerly well-known actress, the ...more
Feb 06, 2016 Wolfgang rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't know what it is - this plot has captured me. The book is a thriller about the life of key members of the Weathermen, a terrorist branch-out of the 60's student organization SDS. I watched the movie twice (on flights) and found it so captivating that I needed to read the underlying book as well. Loved it !

Political events 60's/early 70's, the fight over the soul of the US society between the established powers, the Vietnam war supporters and a whole generation of young people, who broke w
Phyllis Gauker
Dec 31, 2015 Phyllis Gauker rated it really liked it
This book is about people who followed their consciences in the 60s concerning our government being trustworthy or not and the Vietnam war. An interesting idea presented in the title of the book is that your opinion about the rightness or wrongness of that war was NOT based on principle, but on the company you kept at the time. It points out that the sometimes minor things some of these "radicals" did in breaking the law, forcing them underground for decades, were never forgiven, while we watche ...more
Celia Jones
Feb 11, 2016 Celia Jones rated it really liked it
This book is about a man who has lived under a false identity for many years while evading arrest for a murder carried out as part of the anti-Vietnam war protests in the US during the 1970s.

I read this after reading "You're a big girl now", which is the sequel. That meant I already knew a lot of what happens in this one. But somehow I was compelled to read every word. It's not so much a page-turning thriller, but I found it fascinating. Uncomfortable too, as I started to feel that this isn't f
Vinh Bui
This is a good book, intellectual and engaging. The political and philosophical issues are intriguing. It made me think and ponder a lot. For a Vietnamese, reading a book about the anti-Vietnam-war movements in the states was indeed interesting.

I have some issues with the book, mainly about the author's writing style and his approaches. Firstly, I think the email-narrative didn't work out so well, at least with how Gordon intended to tell the stories. Secondly, all characters sounded the same i
Steve Wilson
Jul 07, 2013 Steve Wilson rated it really liked it
While the pace of the book is often slow, it was nonetheless interesting from start to finish and I especially enjoyed the glimpses of information about the Vietnam protest era.

The book is written in the form of e-mails from various individuals to the daughter of the main character of the book. The reasons behind the e-mails remains unknown until the final pages of the book whne the author pulls all the pieces together. Trying to figure out the purpose of the e-mails kept me intrigued throughou
Jan 31, 2015 Patricia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
This is so good! The story is told by emails to one person from four or more different persons. I love that sort of format. And each of these persons has his or her own voice and story. It involves a man needing to deal with his past in the Weather Underground after creating a new life for himself which he is loathe to abandon. And loathe to abandon his child to whom the emails are addressed. I loved the picture of the non-violent revolutionaries of the Weather Underground who were trying to ove ...more
May 05, 2013 Pam rated it it was ok
Was hoping it would be better than it was for me. I think the movie in this case may be better even though I'm sure it will make changes. The book could have done with some editing. I've seen reviews that say it is a well written book; it is in that he knows how to give overlong commentaries with lots and lots of words-he them very well but there are too many. It made the book longer than it needed to be for the story it was trying to tell. It would have been a very interesting story if he could ...more
Sep 04, 2014 Katie rated it liked it
This book was very, very good. I desperately wanted to finish it so I could know what happened! Neil Gordon did a great job of concealing what happened while strategically sprinkling in little details that help you narrow down the possibilities throughout the story. Yet somehow, despite all this, The Company You Keep took me FOREVER to get into. It just didn't suck me in for some reason. Possibly it was the way it was written-- by multiple characters all telling bits of the big story to Isabel. ...more
Jun 26, 2013 Ashleigh rated it liked it
I picked this up because I had originally wanted to see the movie, and didn't realize it had been a book first. I was intrigued by the format - the entire book is told in emails, so you hear the story laid out by different people and their viewpoints. Although it starts out captivating, the book ends up becoming sort of long and drawn out, and I found myself just wanting it to get to the point. When the "big reveal" happens, its a little bit of a let down. It feels like so much of this book is m ...more
Jul 14, 2013 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american
a book written as a series of emails, even impossibly long ones, somehow works. It's a good tight thriller, and he gets it right on what young people in the late 60s looked like (I was there and I can remember). At least one implausibility in the plot doesn't really matter. Those things anyway have a habit of being true. I liked this book quite a lot. I got it because I saw the film with Robert Redford, which was dull by comparison - it left the interesting parts out, and the plot twist is obvio ...more
Apr 15, 2009 Michelle rated it really liked it
This is my favorite of the 1960s/1970s fugitive-rebel genre. Though less well reviewed than a number of others, all of whose titles escape me, this felt to me the most right; or, at least, the most compelling. Told entirely in emails to the daughter the fugitive hasn't seen since her infancy, to me it gives a real sense of what happened during the Vietnam War era, and what has happened since. It points up how hard it would be for the child of radicals to really understand, or have empathy. It al ...more
Apr 22, 2013 Tonia rated it liked it
I'm very excited to see the movie, but I am not sure I would recommend the book. I think this is a rare occasion where the movie will be better than the book. I was very intrigued by the mystery of the book, and really enjoyed the unique element of it being told through a series of emails from several different characters. I feel like some of the characters, and James/Jim in particular, would go on and on about things that really didn't progress the story at all. Overall, it was an interesting s ...more
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“And yet now, after all these years, I find that it doesn’t matter whether I filmed it or not, because we lose our children not once but over and over again. That loss, I can feel it now, yesterday, tomorrow, every minute, and I promise you, I do.” 0 likes
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