Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Random House, Inc.
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.

Baker & Taylor
Recounts the interrelated early twentieth-century lives of the families of a New Rochelle manufacturer, an immigrant socialist, and a Harlem musician and their involvement with Evelyn Nesbit, Henry Ford, Houdini, Morgan, Freud, Zapata, and other period notables. Reader's Guide included. Reprint.

& Taylor

Recounts the interrelated early twentieth-century lives of the families of a New Rochelle manufacturer, an immigrant socialist, and a Harlem musician and their involvement with Henry Ford, Houdini, Freud, and other period notables.

Publisher: New York : Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2007
Edition: Random House Trade pbk. ed
ISBN: 9780812978186
Branch Call Number: CLASSICS FIC D
Characteristics: 320 p. ; 21 cm.


From Library Staff

Author: E.L. Doctorow
Areas Featured: Lower East Side, Flatiron
"The complicated classic takes place during the rush to the First World War, and involves an upper-class family who has made their fortune selling flags and fireworks to a patriotic and frenzied America. Everything is thrown i... Read More »

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Oct 28, 2014
  • WVMLStaffPicks rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

The entertaining novel behind the musical. America at the beginning of the century is a land of contrasts -- full of innocence, energy and ambition -- portrayed through an eclectic array of historical and fictional characters.

Jul 09, 2014
  • libraryfamily_1 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

After all these years of having this title on my "to be read" list I finally read it and loved every page. The way Doctorow fictionally weaves the lives of famous people together is a fascinating and original way to tell the story of that amazing time period. A must read.

Apr 24, 2014
  • CRRL_CraigGraziano rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Ragtime, by E. L. Doctorow, swirls through 1906 America with a breakneck stream-of-consciousness pace more frenetic than most historical fiction. A densely-constructed ensemble piece that alternates between fictional and real life figures of the age, the thoroughly modern novel amazed critics and readers alike upon its publication in 1975.

Read more at: http://www.librarypoint.org/ragtime_doctorow

Nov 09, 2013
  • lisahiggs rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Before I read Ragtime, I was always confusing Cory Doctorow and E.L. Doctorow. Definitely not anymore. Cory’s enthusiastic pop culture fizz is worlds and decades apart from E.L.’s historical fiction.

Ragtime starts out strong, as real people mix with imagined people to give us a drama (and eventually a popular musical) about the history of early 1900s America. Classes, cultures, and colours mix, too, as the story peers into mansions and looks at the streets.

The story is strongest when the characters are separated and we get strikingly energetic looks into all corners of turn-of-the century American life. The narrative winds along like music while the unusual way Doctorow writes dialogue is both arresting and compelling. But as random characters meet and marry, the ending becomes a somewhat forced melting pot metaphor.


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Jan 17, 2010
  • ChocolateChips rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

ChocolateChips thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


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Feb 20, 2011
  • ChocolateChips rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Sexual Content: Explicit sex and nudity.


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