Norman Podhoretz, the author of Ex-Friends, retired editor of Commentary, and preeminent man of letters, reports as a fully engaged combatant on the partisan colloquy among some of the poets, novelists, scholars, and playwrights of his day whom he befriended through the affinities of their intellect and a shared leftist philosophy. It is the disintegration of these relationships, coming as he reexamined and disavowed his political convictions, that constitutes the substantive structure of this compelling odyssey. There is a dazzling roll of figures (sometimes with brief informative tidbits) from the author’s world of poetry, prose, politics, and philosophy. The frequency of gatherings and the liveliness of discourse of the "Family" members, their propinquity and contiguity, will excite the reader’s sense of envy. In the five chapters that make up the main body of the volume, the author concentrates in turn on poet Allen Ginsberg, scholars Lionel and Diana Trilling, playwright Lillian Hellman, philosopher Hannah Arendt, and novelist Norman Mailer, choosing "to focus on these half-dozen in particular because they were once, and for a considerable period of time, very close to me."