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True Believers Hardcover – 2012

3.8 out of 5 stars 154 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Random House; First Edition edition (2012)
  • ISBN-10: 1588366863
  • ISBN-13: 978-1588366863
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (154 customer reviews)

More About the Author

KURT ANDERSEN's latest book is True Believers, a novel about youth, secrets, lies, politics, love and James Bond.

His previous novels are Heyday, winner of the Langum Prize for Historical Fiction and a New York Times bestseller, and Turn of the Century, a Times Notable Book and national bestseller. He's also the author of Reset: How This Crisis Can Restore Our Values and Renew America. In addition, he is host and co-creator of the Peabody Award-winning public radio program Studio 360.

As an editor, he co-founded Spy and Inside.com and Very Short List, and served as editorial director of Colors and editor-in-chief of New York. He has been a cultural columnist for The New Yorker and Time, as well as Time's architecture and design critic. He has also created television specials and pilots, and written screenplays and stage plays. He currently contributes regularly to Vanity Fair, Time, New York and The New York Times.

He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, the author Anne Kreamer.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Brief summary and review, no spoilers.

Karen Hollender is 64 years old and has decided to write the story of her life. She was recently on a short list of candidates for appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court but she has taken her name out of the running. In this novel, we find out why and what secret she has been hiding for many years.

In this wonderful book, we learn about Karen's loving, middle-class upbringing in Wilmette, Illinois. It is the early 1960's and she and her best friends Chuck and Alex are all James Bond fanatics and they like to act out clandestine and imaginative spy missions. Told in chapters that alternate between the present and the past. we follow Karen and her friends as they grow up during the turbulent 1960's. As the war rages on in Viet Nam, Karen becomes more radicalized and politicized as so many did during that time. But when that radicalization includes a subversive and criminal plan, everything changes.

I have read several books about the 1960's and the counterculture movement and this may be one the best ones I've read. I thought the author nailed the descriptions of what it was like during that decade and I also thought his observations about the culture both then and today were persuasive and compelling. There were unique things about the 1960's for sure, and no doubt America did lose its innocence and change after the assassination of John Kennedy. But as this book so brilliantly shows us, much of what we thought was so exclusive to that time is more universal and relevant today as well.

This novel is not just an astute look at our culture then and now, it's also the author's shrewd observations about time and memory.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Although I'm a few years younger than Karen Hollander, the 65-year-old protagonist of this book, I grew up in the '60s and remember enough to find the period fascinating -- a true watershed time around the world, whether or not you agree with its influence, which is still evident today.

So I looked forward to reading this book, in which Hollander, a respected and accomplished renaissance woman, looks back on her revolutionary acts during the '60s as she writes a book about her life. The story jumps back and forth between the present and that tumultuous decade more than forty years ago, highlighting the things Karen and her associates did in their often misguided attempts to improve the world.

The problem I had was that the story starts out slowly and pretty much takes its time -- not something I expected in a tale about the '60s. There's a lot of focus on the teenaged Karen and her friends' fascination with James Bond books and movies -- and, yes, there is a point to that, but the book takes a long time to reveal it. In the meantime, I found myself thinking, "So what?"

As badly as I wanted to get into this book, I found my attention wandering time after time as I waded through mountains of unnecessary details. I think this is a worthy effort, but in the end it was more of a slog than a sprint.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Sixty-five-year-old Karen Hollander is an attorney with Type I diabetes, a heavyweight résumé and a Wikipedia entry. Her CV includes (but not limited to) author of four best-selling books, dean of a law school, a corporate lawyer in a powerful law firm, and U.S. Justice Department official. She's divorced, with accomplished, brilliant children, and she's devoted to her granddaughter, Waverly, a seventeen-year-old on her way to becoming a likeness of the achieving Karen (with some cute malapropisms that Karen corrects).

The book is told from Hollander's narrative perspective, as a memoir, to gradually divulge a dangerous secret surrounding her activist activities in 1967, an undisclosed event that caused her to turn down a nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. This secret, she feels, has emotionally crippled her (and likely the former friends involved). Andersen's rugged skill and talent is displayed here, as he gradually develops a taut, thriller-type story that will keep you turning the pages, and echoes a past that surely is more passionate than its future.

If you enjoy stories about the 1960's hippie/activist days, you will revel in the revolutionary spirit of the counterculture era--protests, sit-ins, intellectual debates--together with thought-provoking ideas that pad the story, but add to the theme and successfully loop into the narrative. Additionally, Karen's 007-role-playing missions with her best friends, Alex and Chuck, define her pre-college years and add colorful background to the story. Their friendship was cemented during these risky and adventurous events that began in Wilmette, near Chicago, and peaked as Harvard freshmen. She now lives in LA.

Because of Andersen's tight pacing and architecture, I was engaged in the story.
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6 Comments 64 of 85 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Until now, the best repesntation, in fiction, of America in the 60s was George R.R. Martin's "The Armageddon Rag" (Don't worry, no one else has heard of it, either!)

But now Kurt Anderson has, oh so vividly, reproduced not only the era (which any competent historian could do), but the "feel" of the era as well.

Moreover, and this is the REALLY important contribution of the book, by looking at it from today, he places that fabled era, and its meaning, or lack thereof, in a perspective that all, too many don't see, don't want to see, perhaps, or can't admit they see.

Without taking one bit away from the importance of those times, Anderson explores (through protagonist/narrator Karen Hollander) the very tricky question of how important one generation's importance really is to another's.

Oh, and he does it with some of the best writing available today.

It's been said: "If you remember the 60s, you weren't there!"

Anderson, who was a teenager during most of that time, may not have "been there", exactly, but, boy, does he remember it for us!
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