The Company You Keep

This website is primarily devoted to writing spiritual insights, thoughts, experiences, etc. But I do read a fair amount, and I just finished a book which has little to do with spirituality, but was an impactful book none the less. This novel, written by Neil Gordon, has recently been made into a movie, which is what drew my attention to it. The movie review sounded like this was an interesting story. And boy, is that ever the truth!!

Growing up in the USA, an adolescent in the 1960’s, I was very affected by all the social unrest happening at the time. While I was never directly involved in much, I was fairly aware of the civil rights movement, the antiwar protests and the like.

This story deals with a few members of what began as the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society), a group I was distantly aware of. Then some of the more radical members formed the Weatherman Underground, and began planting bombs and blowing up government buildings in protest to the dominance of the ruling powers. The Weatherman ethics kept them from killing; they timed their explosions to be away from people and times when people were at work.

But of course, their activities were illegal, so many members were forced underground. Many surfaced over the next decades. But the two main characters of this novel remained underground until 1996. The novel takes place in 2006, in attempts to get parole for one of the characters. There are many, many “flashbacks”, both to 1996, and to the 60’s and 70’s.

Neil Gordon very accurately captures the mood of those earlier decades. Not all of us were actively spending our lives in protest over social injustices, but all of us were certainly impacted by those who did. This story took me right back into those times, telling an inside story of groups I knew only vaguely. But the author gets it right!

It is very well written. His character development is top-notch. I as the reader ended up caring very deeply what happened to these terribly flawed individuals as their lives slowly unfolded through the course of the book.

I would recommend this read to anyone wanting to understand just a little more about the generation of the 60’s and 70’s. It is entertaining on many levels, but also very insightful.