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Matters of Honor

3.35  ·  Rating details ·  153 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
From the acclaimed author of "Wartime Lies "and "About Schmidt, " a luminous story of a brilliant but haunted outsider driven to transcend his past.
At Harvard in the early 1950s, three seemingly mismatched freshmen are thrown together: Sam, who fears that his fine New England name has been tarnished by his father's drinking and his mother's affairs; Archie, an affable arm
Hardcover, 307 pages
Published January 23rd 2007 by Alfred A. Knopf (first published January 1st 2007)
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William Koon
Jun 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Louis Begley writes, sometimes –many times—about the same things: upper class Americans in moral situations. He does so again in Matters of Honor. Here we follow five people from Harvard (and Radcliffe) from the late forties to some kind of end for three of them. Along the way he writes probably the most interesting novel ever created about property law. Throw in some holocaust material, some coming of age sex in the ‘fifties, and a scintillating international scene and you have quite a book. In ...more
Andy Miller
Sep 14, 2011 rated it liked it
This novel begins in the early 50s with the narrator meeting his two roommates in his freshman year at Harvard and ends with two of the survivors in their seventies. Despite the time span, the book never really leaves Harvard. One of the narrator's roommates is Henry, a Jew from Poland who survived the Holocaust by hiding in a friend's room for two years--much of the book deals with his assimilation into WASPish society, the discrimination he often faced and the eventual consequences.

Jul 26, 2011 rated it did not like it
Hmmm I liked reading about what going to Harvard was like in the 50's, but the main characters were a bunch of New York intelligentsia snobs who thought they were above being snobby, which made them even more snobby... rather depressing. It seems like it was somewhat in imitation of a Robertson Davies book, what with the intellectual old man reflecting too much on others lives because he's lonely and got nothing else to do, only not nearly as good.
Ron Charles
Dec 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Either one of Louis Begley's careers would be an extraordinary accomplishment. As a partner at a New York law firm, he maneuvered giant deals through the treacherous landscape of overlapping European legal systems. And as the author of eight novels, he has won wide critical acclaim, been nominated for a National Book Award and served as president of the PEN American Center. Much of his fiction -- beginning with his first novel, Wartime Lies, published in 1991 when he was 57 -- has been marked by ...more
Nov 27, 2016 rated it did not like it
Inane. Didn't finish.......
Aug 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most of the story is set in Harvard, but it’s less about college life than it is about the search of identity and life-long friendship.
Early in the 1950s the three protagonists first meet when they move into the same suite of the college dormitory. Sam Standish – the narrator – is the son of an old New England family who hasn’t yet come to terms with the rather recent discovery that he had been adopted as a baby by his parents who belong to an impoverished branch of the Standishes and who are s
Jun 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
#4 Summer Sub Club read with Beth.....This is a sleeper of a novel. On the surface it is simply a tale of four post-WWII Harvard freshmen and their coming of age with typical life struggles in the arenas of career, family, and relationships. However, Begley's writing subtly draws the reader into a much bigger theme which is self-invention and re-invention. We meet Sam, our narrator whose parents were not up to snuff by many standards. We meet Archie, who is a burgeoning alcoholic who refuses to ...more
Aug 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book follows three young men who are college roommates at Harvard during the early 1950s. One is from an old New England family, but has conflict with his parents. Another is a Jewish refugee from Poland, trying to fit in to a largely gentile society at Harvard. The third is from a military family, and has traveled around throughout his life.

The characters were interesting and well-written, and the book provided interesting insight into the world of upper-class New England in the 1950s. It
Mar 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book by Louis Begley I've read.

The book begins in the mid-50's, at Harvard, and, as a novel, it's really a bit old fashioned.

The story centers on Henry White, a Polish Jewish immigrant who goes to Harvard, and his efforts to adopt the prevailing WASP culture of Harvard. It follows White and his roommates and friends through the years.
Feb 08, 2009 rated it liked it
I liked this book- the time period was kind of interesting, following three guys from post-WWII Harvard to present day. I liked the characters, but I rated it a 3 because it was kind of slow reading. More like a 3 1/2. I am interested in trying out more of this author's books.
Julie [Kaskade]
If you don't mind time moving around oddly, [mainly large jumps ahead in time with no/little explanations] then this is worth the read. I felt tied in to some of the characters, and intrigued by most of them. Worth reading.
Dec 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
Mr. Barry Koski

Well written but I was slightly disappointed.
Pia Thompson
Mar 14, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
AWFUL. I will never read anything else by this author it was so awful.
Jun 29, 2008 rated it did not like it
Flat story with flat characters: Polish Jew goes to Harvard in 50s, excels as a lawyer, then drops out.
Sabine Fischer
Jun 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
it`s slowly, wonderful and it spells ...more
Jul 09, 2012 rated it did not like it
Feb 22, 2010 marked it as to-read
3 friends from Harvard 1950's southern France
Jul 03, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book was pretty interesting until the last few chapters. The ending made no sense to me--I expected a lot more.
Oct 28, 2007 rated it it was ok
Pulled this off the new-fiction shelf at the library.
Dec 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
I loved this book for about 3/4. Then it got a little bogged down. And I still have a couple of questions. Foremost, who were Sam,s real parents? Was he gay?
Jul 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Rating: 4 1/2 stars.
Ellen Robin
Jan 20, 2010 rated it liked it
The only book I've ever read by Louis Begley - really enjoyed it. Memorable characters.
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Feb 20, 2012
Marcel Hugo
rated it it was amazing
Feb 14, 2012
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Jan 27, 2015
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Sep 24, 2014
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Apr 25, 2012
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Louis Begley is an American novelist.

Begley was born Ludwik Begleiter in Stryi at the time part of Poland and now in Ukraine, as the only child of a physician. He is a survivor of the Holocaust due to the multiple purchases of Aryan papers by his mother and constant evasion of the Nazis. They survived by pretending to be Polish Catholic. The family left Poland in the fall of 1946 and settled in N
More about Louis Begley