Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow
A Novel

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Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time

Published in 1975, Ragtime changed our very concept of what a novel could be. An extraordinary tapestry, Ragtime captures the spirit of America in the era between the turn of the century and the First World War.

The story opens in 1906 in New Rochelle, New York, at the home of an affluent American family. One lazy Sunday afternoon, the famous escape artist Harry Houdini swerves his car into a telephone pole outside their house. And almost magically, the line between fantasy and historical fact, between real and imaginary characters, disappears. Henry Ford, Emma Goldman, J. P. Morgan, Evelyn Nesbit, Sigmund Freud, and Emiliano Zapata slip in and out of the tale, crossing paths with Doctorow's imagined family and other fictional characters, including an immigrant peddler and a ragtime musician from Harlem whose insistence on a point of justice drives him to revolutionary violence.

About E.L. Doctorow

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E. L. DOCTOROW was born in 1931 in New York City and was educated at Kenyon College and Columbia University. His earlier novels are Welcome to Hard Times and Big as Life. Formerly editor-in-chief of a prominent New York publishing house, he was most recently writer-in-residence at the University of California at Irvine. He lives in Westchester County with his wife and three children.
Published November 17, 2010 by Random House. 336 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, Arts & Photography, Education & Reference, Biographies & Memoirs. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Ragtime

Kirkus Reviews

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Pub Date: July 14th, 1975 ISBN: 0679602976 Page count: ...

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The New York Times

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At the center of Doctorow's entertaining experiment in historical montage is a musician in search of retribution.

Jul 08 1975 | Read Full Review of Ragtime: A Novel

Los Angeles Times

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Doctorow was the author of "Ragtime," "World's Fair" and "The Book of Daniel," among other works.

Jul 21 2015 | Read Full Review of Ragtime: A Novel

The Washington Post

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Jan 20 2014 | Read Full Review of Ragtime: A Novel

MostlyFiction Book Reviews

Mother, radically progressive without knowing it, befriends Sarah, the black mother of the illegitimate baby Mother finds buried in the garden, and ends up raising the black child as her own;

Jul 30 2011 | Read Full Review of Ragtime: A Novel


SuperFan badge holders consistently post smart, timely comments about Washington area sports and teams.

Mar 16 2017 | Read Full Review of Ragtime: A Novel

The New Yorker

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Nov 23 2009 | Read Full Review of Ragtime: A Novel

The New York Review of Books

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Aug 07 1975 | Read Full Review of Ragtime: A Novel


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Nov 15 2009 | Read Full Review of Ragtime: A Novel

Talkin' Broadway

Umoh is mildly engaging as the ill-fated Sarah, but her scooping and flatness in her soul-searing aria, “Your Daddy’s Son,” hints at none the power actresses like Audra McDonald (who created the role and won a Tony) and LaChanze have found in it.

Nov 15 2009 | Read Full Review of Ragtime: A Novel

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