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True Believers

A Novel

By

Hardcover published by Random House (Random House Publishing Group)

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About This Book
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The Washington Post • San Francisco Chronicle

In True Believers, Kurt Andersen—the New York Times bestselling and critically acclaimed author of Heyday and Turn of the Century—delivers his most powerful and moving novel yet. Dazzling in its wit and effervescent insight, this kaleidoscopic tour de force of cultural observation and seductive storytelling alternates between the present and the 1960s—and indelibly captures the enduring impact of that time on the ways we live now.

Karen Hollander is a celebrated attorney who recently removed herself from consideration for appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. Her reasons have their roots in 1968—an episode she’s managed to keep secret for more than forty years. Now, with the imminent publication of her memoir, she’s about to let the world in on that shocking secret—as soon as she can track down the answers to a few crucial last questions.

As junior-high-school kids back in the early sixties, Karen and her two best friends, Chuck and Alex, roamed suburban Chicago on their bikes looking for intrigue and excitement. Inspired by the exotic romance of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels, they acted out elaborate spy missions pitting themselves against imaginary Cold War villains. As friendship carries them through childhood and on to college—in a polarized late-sixties America riven by war and race as well as sex, drugs, and rock and roll—the bad guys cease to be the creatures of make-believe. Caught up in the fervor of that extraordinary and uncanny time, they find themselves swept into a dangerous new game with the highest possible stakes.

Today, only a handful of people are left who know what happened. As Karen reconstructs the past and reconciles the girl she was then with the woman she is now, finally sharing pieces of her secret past with her national-security-cowboy boyfriend and Occupy-activist granddaughter, the power of memory and history and luck become clear. A resonant coming-of-age story and a thrilling political mystery, True Believers is Kurt Andersen’s most ambitious novel to date, introducing a brilliant, funny, and irresistible new heroine to contemporary fiction.

Praise for True Believers
 
“Funny, fiendishly smart.”—San Francisco Chronicle
 
“A great American novel.”—Vanity Fair
 
“A big, swinging novel . . . [a] colorful story . . . This could be the most rambunctious meeting your book club will have for a long time.”—The Washington Post
 
“Intelligent and insightful . . . Think The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter and Atonement, a ’60s-era female Holden Caulfield. . . . Andersen is an agile storyteller. . . . [There are] witty, occasionally even profound observations about the ’60s and today.”—USA Today
 
“So epic: Part thriller, part coming-of-age tale, the novel alternates between the present and the 1960s, capturing some of America’s most pivotal moments in history like a time capsule.”—Marie Claire
 
“This is an ambitious and remarkable novel, wonderfully voiced, about memory, secrets, guilt, and the dangers of certitude. Moreover, it asks essential questions about what it means to be an American and, in a sense, what it means to be America.”—Booklist (starred review)
 
“Fascinating and wisely observant.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
Show less
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The Washington Post • San Francisco Chronicle

In True Believers, Kurt Andersen—the New York Times bestselling and critically acclaimed author of Heyday and Turn of the Century—delivers his most powerful and moving novel yet. Dazzling in its wit and effervescent insight, this kaleidoscopic tour de force of cultural observation and seductive storytelling alternates between the present and the 1960s—and indelibly captures the enduring impact of that time on the ways we live now.

Karen Hollander is a celebrated attorney who recently removed herself from consideration for appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. Her reasons have their roots in 1968—an episode she’s managed to keep secret for more than forty years. Now, with the imminent publication of her memoir, she’s about to let the world in on that shocking secret—as soon as she can track down the answers to a few crucial last questions.

As junior-high-school kids back in the early sixties, Karen and her two best friends, Chuck and Alex, roamed suburban Chicago on their bikes looking for intrigue and excitement. Inspired by the exotic romance of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels, they acted out elaborate spy missions pitting themselves against imaginary Cold War villains. As friendship carries them through childhood and on to college—in a polarized late-sixties America riven by war and race as well as sex, drugs, and rock and roll—the bad guys cease to be the creatures of make-believe. Caught up in the fervor of that extraordinary and uncanny time, they find themselves swept into a dangerous new game with the highest possible stakes.

Today, only a handful of people are left who know what happened. As Karen reconstructs the past and reconciles the girl she was then with the woman she is now, finally sharing pieces of her secret past with her national-security-cowboy boyfriend and Occupy-activist granddaughter, the power of memory and history and luck become clear. A resonant coming-of-age story and a thrilling political mystery, True Believers is Kurt Andersen’s most ambitious novel to date, introducing a brilliant, funny, and irresistible new heroine to contemporary fiction.

Praise for True Believers
 
“Funny, fiendishly smart.”—San Francisco Chronicle
 
“A great American novel.”—Vanity Fair
 
“A big, swinging novel . . . [a] colorful story . . . This could be the most rambunctious meeting your book club will have for a long time.”—The Washington Post
 
“Intelligent and insightful . . . Think The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter and Atonement, a ’60s-era female Holden Caulfield. . . . Andersen is an agile storyteller. . . . [There are] witty, occasionally even profound observations about the ’60s and today.”—USA Today
 
“So epic: Part thriller, part coming-of-age tale, the novel alternates between the present and the 1960s, capturing some of America’s most pivotal moments in history like a time capsule.”—Marie Claire
 
“This is an ambitious and remarkable novel, wonderfully voiced, about memory, secrets, guilt, and the dangers of certitude. Moreover, it asks essential questions about what it means to be an American and, in a sense, what it means to be America.”—Booklist (starred review)
 
“Fascinating and wisely observant.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
Product Details
Hardcover (448 pages)
Published: July 10, 2012
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Imprint: Random House
ISBN: 9781400067206
Other books byKurt Andersen
  • Heyday

    Heyday
    A Novel
    Heyday is a brilliantly imagined, wildly entertaining tale of America’s boisterous coming of age–a sweeping panorama of madcap rebellion and overnight fortunes, palaces and brothels, murder and revenge–as well as the story of a handful of unforgettable characters discovering the nature of freedom, loyalty, friendship, and true love. In the middle of the nineteenth century, modern life is being born: the mind-boggling marvels of photography, the telegraph, and railroads; a flood of show business spectacles and newspapers; rampant sex and drugs and drink (and moral crusades against all three); Wall Street awash with money; and giddy utopian visions everywhere. Then, during a single amazing month at the beginning of 1848, history lurches: America wins its war of manifest destiny against Mexico, gold is discovered in northern California, and revolutions sweep across Europe–sending one eager English gentleman off on an epic transatlantic adventure. . . . Amid the tumult, aristocratic Benjamin Knowles impulsively abandons the Old World to reinvent himself in New York, where he finds himself embraced by three restless young Americans: Timothy Skaggs, muckraking journalist, daguerreotypist, pleasure-seeker, stargazer; the fireman Duff Lucking, a sweet but dangerously damaged veteran of the Mexican War; and Duff’s dazzling sister Polly Lucking, a strong-minded, free thinking actress (and discreet part-time prostitute) with whom Ben falls hopelessly in love. Beckoned by the frontier, new beginnings, and the prospects of the California Gold Rush, all four set out on a transcontinental race west–relentlessly tracked, unbeknownst to them, by a cold-blooded killer bent on revenge. A fresh, impeccable portrait of an era startlingly reminiscent of our own times, Heyday is by turns tragic and funny and sublime, filled with bona fide heroes and lost souls, visionaries (Walt Whitman, Charles Darwin, Alexis de Tocqueville) and monsters, expanding horizons and narrow escapes. It is also an affecting story of four people passionately chasing their American dreams at a time when America herself was still being dreamed up–an enthralling, old-fashioned yarn interwoven with a bracingly modern novel of ideas. "In this utterly engaging novel, the author of Turn of the Century brings 19th-century America vividly to life . . . While this is a long book, it moves quickly, with historical detail that's involving but never a drag on the action; the characters are beautifully drawn. A terrific book; highly recommended." –Library Journal "Heyday is fuled by manic energy, fanatical research, and a wicked sense of humor.... It's a joyful, wild gallop through a joyful, wild time to be an American." -Vanity Fair From the Hardcover edition.

    Turn of the Century

    Turn of the Century
    As big and exciting as the next century, this is a novel of real life at our giddy, feverish, topsy-turvy edge of the millennium. Turn of the Century is a good old-fashioned novel about the day after tomorrow--an uproarious, exquisitely observed panorama of our world as the twentieth century morphs into the twenty-first, transforming family, marriage, and friendship and propelled by the supercharged global businesses and new technologies that make everyone's lives shake and spin a little faster.          As the year 2000 progresses, George Mactier and Lizzie Zimbalist, ten years married, are caught up in the whirl of their centrifugally accelerating lives. George is a TV producer for the upstart network MBC, launching a truly and weirdly groundbreaking new show that blurs the line between fact and fiction. Lizzie is a software entrepreneur dealing with the breakneck pleasures and pains of running her own company in an industry where the rules are rewritten daily. Rocketing between Los An-geles and Seattle, with occasional stopovers at home in Manhattan for tag-team parenting of their three children, George and Lizzie are the kind of businesspeople who, growing up in the sixties and seventies, never dreamed they would end up in business. They're too busy to spend the money that's rolling in, and too smart not to feel ambivalent about their crazed, high-gloss existences, but nothing seems to slow the roller-coaster momentum of their inter-secting lives and careers.          However, after Lizzie, recovering from a Microsoft deal gone awry, becomes a confidante and adviser to George's boss, billionaire media mogul Harold Mose, the couple discovers that no amount of sophisticated spin can obscure basic instincts: envy, greed, suspicion, sexual temptation--and, maybe, love. When they and their children are finally drawn into a thrilling, high-tech corporate hoax that sends Wall Street reeling (and makes one person very, very rich), George and Lizzie can only marvel at life's oversized surprises and hold on for dear life.          Like Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities, Kurt Andersen's Turn of the Century lays bare the follies of our age with laser-beam precision, creating memorable characters and dissecting the ways we think, speak, and navigate this new era of extreme capitalism and mind-boggling technology. Entertaining, imaginative, knowing, and wise, Turn of the Century is a richly plotted comedy of manners about the way we live now. From the Hardcover edition.

    Spark

    Spark
    How Creativity Works
    How did Richard Ford's cat influence his work as a novelist? HOW is Chuck Close's portraiture driven by his inability to remember faces? What pivotal moment helped Rosanne Cash understand the healing power of the stage? Creativity is an elusive subject. We enjoy its fruits—movies, novels, paintings, songs—but rarely are we privy to what happens in the creative process. In Spark, Julie Burstein traces the roots of some of the twenty-first century's most influential and creative thinkers, including Joyce Carol Oates, Yo-Yo Ma, David Milch, Isabel Allende, and Joshua Redman. Burstein pulls back the curtain to reveal the sources of these artists' inspiration and the processes that bring their work into being. "These artists may not change lead into gold," Burstein writes, "but they lift materials from their familiar contexts, combining, reshaping, transforming them into works of art that change the way we see the world." Spark is an invaluable resource for the aspiring writer and artist, but the need for creativity extends well beyond the world of paintbrushes and typewriters. Creativity is integral to business, parenting, education, science, and, perhaps most poignantly, our personal relationships. Rarely do books on creativity illuminate and inspire; this marvelous volume will help you find a spark of your own.

    Reset

    Reset
    How This Crisis Can Restore Our Values and...
    “This is the end of the world as we’ve known it,” Kurt Andersen writes in Reset. “But it isn’t the end of the world.” In this smart and refreshingly hopeful book, Andersen–a brilliant analyst and synthesizer of historical and cultural trends, as well as a bestselling novelist and host of public radio’s Studio 360–shows us why the current economic crisis is actually a moment of great opportunity to get ourselves and our nation back on track. Historically, America has always shifted between wild, exuberant speculation and steady, sober hard work, as well as back and forth between economic booms and busts, and between right and left politically. This is one of the rare moments when all these cycles shift dramatically and simultaneously–a moment when complacency ends, ossified structures loosen up, and enormous positive change is possible. The shock to the system can enable each of us to rethink certain habits and focus more on the things that make us authentically happy. The present flux can enable us as a society to consolidate the enormous gains of the last several decades in areas such as technology, crime prevention, women’s and civil rights, and the democratization of the planet. We can reap the fruits of a revival of realism and pragmatism at home and abroad. As we enter a new era of post-party-line common sense, we can start to reinvent hopelessly broken systems–in health care, education, climate change, and more–and rediscover some of the old-fashioned American values of which we’ve lost sight. In Reset, Andersen explains how we’ve done it before and why we are about to do it again–and better than ever. From the Hardcover edition.

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