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The Company You Keep

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  605 Ratings  ·  104 Reviews
With the publication of his highly praised first novel, "Sacrifice of Isaac," Neil Gordon proved himself a master of the intellectual thriller. In his new novel, Gordon mixes political turmoil and family drama to deliver a plot that is as intricate as it is compelling.
Based on intensive research into the divisive events of the late sixties and the lives of Weather Underg
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published June 30th 2003 by Viking Books
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Mar 27, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2004
Second read-through. Liked it just as much. Lots of good historical background about Vietnam War and SDS and corrupt national government. Set the scene well to explain motivations of "radical leftist" groups in USA.

Like the message about your actions being result not necessarily of your political or religious viewpoints, but of the people that you live among: the company you keep.

Makes me want to read much more about the 60s & 70s student protests. Reading this now after seeing Taymor's "Ac
Aug 17, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Apr 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Michael O'Toole
Nov 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Carol Tensen
Mar 06, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Category Is: Book Review Realness!
Oct 16, 2014 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 Category Is: Book Review Realness! 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
Apr 23, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Aug 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 17, 2017 rated it liked it
I read this because I saw eulogies for the author, who has just recently died. It's not the best novel. It's about sixties radicals from the Weather Underground trying to figure out how to emerge from hiding in the 1990s. The plot is kind of a soap opera, with many handsome people who are athletic and have many sexual experiences. I got irritated by how relentlessly brilliant and good looking and well-connected everyone was. Also, their politics weren't articulated in any particularly compelling ...more
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  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. Great read!
Sep 10, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
Loved the movie. Cannot get into the book. Disappointing
Michael Walwer
Jul 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was put off initially by how the story was told via "emails". The depth of the book far exceeded the story told by the surprise. But it was the movie that interested me in the book.
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
Sep 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 23, 2016 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
Harold Walker
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
Phyllis Gauker
Dec 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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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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