Harry Houdini astonishes audiences with magical feats of escape, the mighty J. P. Morgan dominates the financial world and Henry Ford manufactures cars by making men into machines. Emma Goldman preaches free love and feminism, while ex-chorus girl Evelyn Nesbitt inspires a mad millionaire to murder the architect Stanford White.
In this stunningly original chronicle of an age, such real-life characters intermingle with three remarkable families, one black, one Jewish and one prosperous WASP, to create a dazzling literary mosaic that brings to life an era of dire poverty, fabulous wealth, and incredible change – in short, the era of ragtime.
Winner, 1975 National Book Critics Circle Awards.
“One of the best ten books of the decade!” Time
“A unique and beautiful work of art about American destiny, built of fact and logical fantasy, governed by music heard and sensed, responsive to cinema, shaken by a continental pulse… written exquisitely… Doctorow has added a grace to our history.” Saturday Review
“An extraordinary deft, lyrical, rich novel that catches the spirit of the country… In a fluid musical way that is as original as it is satisfying.” The New Yorker
“As exhilarating as a deep breath of oxygen… a remarkable achievement… Doctorow has found a fresh way to orchestrate the themes of America innocence, energy, and ambition.” Newsweek
“An extraordinary fictional tapestry… Once in there’s no possible way out expect through the last page.” The New Republic