The narrator of the novel, Daniel Isaacson (or Lewin, if using his adopted name) is the brother of Susan and the son of Paul and Rochelle Isaacson. He is married to Phyllis and has a son, also named Paul. He is a graduate student at Columbia University and is writing his dissertation on the events surrounding the conviction and subsequent execution of his parents. He is committed to finding out the truth regarding his parents' conviction of espionage. His commitment to the New Left is more tenuous than that of his sister's. Daniel has a perverse, sadistic streak that manifests itself frequently throughout the course of the novel.
The sister of Daniel and daughter to Rochelle and Paul. She is sensuous, innocent, and fiercely committed to the New Left and her parents' memory. At the opening of the novel it is revealed that she has attempted suicide in the bathroom of a Howard Johnson's restaurant. Her relationship with Daniel had been strained for several years up to that point.
The husband of Rochelle and father to Daniel and Susan. He owns his own radio repair shop and loves to talk to Daniel about the American government's oppressive manuevers against its citizens. He is a member of the Communist Party and is more idealistic and less pragmatic than his wife. He is incapable of coming to terms with the trial and the sentence of execution levied upon him; his stay in prison unhinges him.
The wife and Paul and mother of Daniel and Susan. She is an ardent member of the Communist Party and is put on trial on suspicion of espionage. She is a sensual and attractive woman who takes great pleasure in maintaining her home. She is much more world-weary, realistic, and pragmatic than her husband. Her fortitude and stolidity are remarked upon during the trial.
The sweet and long-suffering wife of Daniel and the mother to their son, Paul. She is a peace-loving hippie whom Daniel meets at a political event; their marriage is often tempestuous.
The husband of Lise Lewin and the adoptive father of Daniel and Susan. Once Asher's associate, he is a lawyer who represents poor people and often works with the American Civil Liberties Union. He is also a professor and a frequent contributor to law journals. His later years are spent trying to reverse the verdict on the Isaacson case. He is a kind man who struggled to create stability for Daniel and Susan.
The wife of Robert Lewin and adoptive mother of Daniel and Susan.
Paul and Rochelle Isaacson's defense attorney who works tirelessly on their case. An honorable, upright, hardworking "Jewish gentleman."
A bold and fervent New Left radical who desires to start a rebellion against the United States government by harnassing the power of the media, especially television. He lives with his girlfriend, Baby, in the East Village of New York City.
Susan's therapist whom Daniel strongly dislikes.
A friend of the Isaacsons whose testimony was used as evidence in their conviction. He was a dentist and a fellow member of the Communist Party, although he was not considered an intellectual. For his confession, he spent some time in jail. After leaving prison, he moved his family to Southern California and changed his name.
The only daughter of Selig and Sadie Mindish. She later becomes a dentist like her father and is engaged to a lawyer. She is wary and critical of Daniel.
The Book of Daniel Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Book of Daniel is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.