True Believers

True Believers - Kurt Andersen I'm not sure how realistic this story is. There were some things that seemed far-fetched, but it had me turning the pages, so I'm not complaining. It was believable enough, and with fiction, that's enough for me. I finished the book in just a few days.The premise is that Karen Hollander, age 64 in 2013, is in the process of writing a book about her life, culminating in the revelation of a huge secret she's been keeping since 1968. It involves serious criminal activity, and people died. That's all she'll tell you to begin with.The narrative bounces back and forth between the present (2013-14), and the past, 1949 through 1968. We follow Karen, Alex, and Chuck growing up together in Illinois, forging a "bond," so to speak, over their fondness for James Bond novels and films. When they go off to Harvard, their hijinks involve much higher stakes, swept up as they are in the revolutionary fervor of the 1960s. For those who can remember life in the '50s and '60s, I think this novel could be a great nostalgia piece. Kurt Andersen brings in all the cultural markers -- music, movies, toys, food, clothes, politics -- everything that stirs up memories of that era.The world must have felt chaotic and frightening for many young people in the 1960s. There was so much change and violence, assassinations, war, nuclear threats -- much of it right here on American soil. At the same time it could be a very heady feeling to be caught up in the maelstrom, certain of the rightness of your beliefs and young enough to disregard long-term consequences. As Karen and her buddies take greater and greater risks, Andersen brings alive that turmoil and idealism. With Karen the senior citizen, we see the haunting aftermath of that youthful misbehavior. Karen Hollander is a fictional representation of many '60s radicals who could never quite escape their past, even when they became adults and embraced the establishment they had once vilified.