Ragtime     by E.L. Doctorow


Set in turn of the century New Rochelle NY, the life of one family becomes a vehicle for a tour of the era. Many famous real people make cameo appearances or are woven into the lives of the characters. We meet anarchist Emma Goldman, mega-millionaire, J.P. Morgan and the great Houdini.

We enjoy the story while finding out what was going on in ragtime, racist, industrialized America in the early 19oo’s. The labor movement was taking off, Henry Ford had begun mass producing the Model T and McKinley’s assassination was still fresh in people’s minds. Emma Goldman live on 13th St on the lower East side and was publishing Mother Earth. The middle class was already moving to the suburbs but many immigrants were working in dark tenements or crowded factories in the garment industry.

I guess this period of history, turn of the century, is my favorite and I am familiar with the people who appear so I enjoyed that part of the book. The story line held my interest. This is the second book i have read by Doctorow and his writing style in matter of fact. He simply tells the story so I didn’t feel any emotional involvement with the characters. I would give it three stars.


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