DROPPING OUT's Reviews > True Believers

True Believers by Kurt Andersen
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's review
Jul 16, 12

Read from July 15 to 16, 2012

I will not summarize or review the book's plot because you, dear reader, can find that done effectively and well by other readers.

Andersen at one points quotes Karl Marx' statement that history repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce. How very true of this novel as well. Andersen has to a remarkable degree captured the tenor of the times, first through the eyes of a teenager in the 1960s, and then through the retrospective vision of that same woman over forty years later. (Forget about Robin William's cutesy comment that if you remember the 60s', you weren't there.)

But what I found most exceptional was how many facts from that decade had to be accumulated and then nuanced through contemporary eyes. All the more remarkable because the protagonist would have been born in 1949, while Andersen was born in 1954. (As I was born in 1945, I guess I trump them both.)

OK, occasionally, I think, Andersen got things out of order, an event from 1966 placed in 1965. More egregious, a statement made by one of the "adult" characters in 1968 that Adlai Stevenson had said that{Eugene] McCarthy had no chance of defeating Lyndon Johnson, if only because Stevenson had died in 1965.

But I will not split hairs - We are not fact-checking James Joyce's Ulysses to verify that such and such funeral did occur on June 16 and not June 17! Perhaps at some future date some overly ambitious young academic will do that and write a dissertation.

And the humor is often delicious. Perhaps my favorite is Karen's grand-daughter not knowing who LBJ was, assuming it was LeBron James!

Andersen absolutely nailed Karen Hollaender as a college student because, reading the book, I recognized her in so many of my contemporaries, and the same for Karen later in her chronological 60s.

I can only wonder: Will anyone ever come this close to capturing in fiction that singular decade which for me was both the happiest and the saddest.

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