The story covers a period I'm familiar with - the rambunctious sixties: the rebelliousness, the quirkiness, the easy love, the drugs, and of course the war. These are all background attributes, but as the characters move smoothly among them, they create their own personal history which becomes a rich and colorful fabric with them in the foreground.
Bernie is an unlikely heroine, bold and sometimes obnoxious with her bossiness, yet tender and giving to a fault. Her life epitomizes the loose world--a dynamism that lasts a decade. Though she dabbles in the major events of the time, including anti-war protests that rock the nation, she chooses instead to care for and live among the natives of Bolivia, thus providing the novel with tension and an intriguing sub-plot involving Che Guevara. Her brother, Nick, is the love of her life, who, becomes disenchanted with his at an early age and opts to enlist and deploy to Vietnam. Here, he meets the third leg of this literary threesome, Spirit Deer, a native American Pawnee.
Nick and Deer are brothers in spirit and Deer gradually becomes enamored with Bernie through her letters to Nick. He and Nick share their fears and longings through the long Vietnamese nights and Deer gives Nick the support he seems to need, facing death, and the shams of the modern world.
The book has many layers of knowing - historical, romantic, an exotic land, religious, native shamanistic ritual, and the spiritual and all-consuming love of mother earth known by the natives as Pachamama.
Don't miss "When the Eagle Flies with the Condor, a novel of the Sixties." You won't regret it.