Customer Reviews


26 Reviews
5 star:
 (18)
4 star:
 (5)
3 star:
 (1)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breath taking in its scope. An American classic.
The first time I read Ragtime I was pregnant and so my over zealous enthusiasm for this book was put down to hormonial overload by everyone who knew me. I have since given birth, regained hormonal stability and re-read the book. It's even better second time around. It's a true "can't put it down" classic, leaping from chapter to chapter, pulling you through the...
Published on 23 Jan 2001

versus
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Divided by a common language
Unlike most of your reviewers, I did not enjoy this book. I found the mixing of real and fictitious persons confusing and thought the characters lacked depth. The actions of Mother's Younger Brother seemed inexplicable, and Coalhouse Walker could only exist in fiction. There is no real feeling of the widespread poverty of the time, or of the pace of change.
Since...
Published on 9 April 2011 by Hugh Sedon


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breath taking in its scope. An American classic., 23 Jan 2001
By A Customer
The first time I read Ragtime I was pregnant and so my over zealous enthusiasm for this book was put down to hormonial overload by everyone who knew me. I have since given birth, regained hormonal stability and re-read the book. It's even better second time around. It's a true "can't put it down" classic, leaping from chapter to chapter, pulling you through the Ragtime era of American history. The characters, all famously fimilar, ranging from Henry Ford to Harry Houndi, are alive and accesable. Each character, almost juicy with the richness of the writing, interlink with each other in a (visualise here!) family tree of a story. Each branch touching another. The plot, dark, heartbreaking, original, and massive - involves a typical family, or so they think. As the story evolves you catch your breath, and find youself shouting plaintive "noooooo"'s as each chapter ends. The subject matter on the surface seems heavy, and to a less skilled writer than Doctorow, taboo (racisim, child abandonment,terrorism); but don't be put off if it's just a good read you're after.Trust me, if I could buy this book for you I would. Yes, it's been made into a film. Yes, it's been made into a musical and a very good job they did too, but the detail and the real story's in the book. Enjoy.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Doctorow's Best, 1 Dec 2002
By 
Bruce Kendall "BEK" (Southern Pines, NC) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Ragtime (Paperback)
This is the modern day eqivalent of John Dos Passos' USA Trilogy. The vignettes Doctorow draws for us have a great deal in common, with Dos Passos' "I am a camera" snapshots. Doctorow depicts an era that is generally regarded in the American historical consciousness as being primarily bucolic and carefree. The nation, relatively innocent, having shaken off the aftereffects of the civil war, has recently won the spurious Spanish-American war, and is generally revelling in a sense of purpose and civility.
What Doctorow is suggesting is that this serene surface was already infected, with a host of social ills festering beneath it. A shift was occuring that would lead to labor riots, race riots, change in mores (sexual attitudes), loss of faith in institutions, etc. that would define the 20th century. If this were all of Doctorow's plan however, it would have been interesting Sociology, but a pretty boring novel.
Doctorow is above all an interesting storyteller. He knows how to keep a plot moving and how to invest it with enough intellectual hardware to make the reader feel that his/her time has been worth the effort. He can bring a scene to life with a few fresh (never shopworn) details. He doesn't spend a great deal of time elabortaing over these details, as James or Wolfe do, but he makes the reader just as cognizant of them. A few brushstrokes and we are there. His writing is cinematic, in that we can "see" the scene he is depicting, without burdening us with excess verbiage. This is the hallmark of a really good author. Ragtime is a primary example of this kind of shorthand acumen. The novel flashes by as seen in a kinescope. I, for one, was delighted I had inserted my nickle.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great American Novel (in a warped sense), 8 Oct 1998
By A Customer
This novel is by far one of the best books I have ever read. The writing style is very lyrical and sweet and lovely. The author keeps the characters blank and nameless to allow them to be anyone (which is a brilliant idea). Also, we can see, through the one-dimensional characters, certain aspects of society. Father-the all-american type. Mother-the stay at home and dream woman. Etc...PLus, it beautifully deals with racism by having a protagonist (Coalhouse Walker) meet the Chief Conklin! And what happens? Booker T. Washington comes in and advocates nonviolent protest. Furthermore, it deals with (one of) the trial(s) of the century:Stanford White. All in all the novel is quite well researched and well done. PLEASE ignore the commentor who complains about Freud. If you want a book with Freud, read a book about Freud (doesn't sound TOO odd).
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deeply moving - and intellectually rewarding too., 3 May 2008
By 
This review is from: Ragtime (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Doctorow digs into the unlovely truths behind our cosy received notions of the past - and blows them up in our faces. A salutary historical lesson, but told with such human warmth and meticulously imagined scenarios that, rather than despair, the reader feels a strange optimism: that we must, and can, do better next time. And Doctorow makes sure that we know there will be a next time; the intricate links between our past and our present are his great theme. Doctorow loves humanity and hates oppression - and portrays both with such immediacy that you laugh and cry along with him. A lovely man with a deep passion for humanity. Read this book!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The 'American Novel'?, 31 May 2013
By 
M. Dowden (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Ragtime (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
There always seem to have been books called the 'American Novel', but lets face it on closer observation most of them aren't really able to conjure up a whole nation and its positiveness as well as its faults. Doctorow's novel on the other hand does so, and very skilfully, all with quite some irreverence.

Set in the early part of the Twentieth Century, this takes us up to just past the First World War. Doctorow's novel for the majority takes place in the State of New York. With fictional characters as well as real life ones this novel creates a kaleidoscopic swirl that takes in so many issues, with politics from anarchy and socialism through to capitalism, with other issues, such as racism, home grown terrorism, poverty and entrepreneurship, as well as religion and cults, and the occult. Into this seething cauldron of ideas Doctorow does give us a plot of sorts, but the best way is just to go with the flow of this energetic book. For something that is actually under three hundred pages, when you finish this it seems to have been longer, due to the range of topics covered. Packed full of incident this is never boring to read and full of humour, from more subtle to outright funny, including some of it quite dark.

First published in the mid-Seventies you can see that although this is an historical novel as such, Doctorow had his eye firmly on what was happening when he wrote this, and as you read this you can also think of the US today and its problems, meaning that this has never really dated. This is a great read, and surely the contender for the 'American Novel'.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Read it now, 16 Sep 2009
This review is from: Ragtime (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
This book was a joy to read. I was sceptical because I'd heard so much about it, but the story really drew me in and I found myself really caring for the characters and rooting for Coalhouse Walker. I particularly enjoy it when an author weaves real-life characters into a fictional plot with this amount of skill, and Doctorow really nailed it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars A classic, just make sure you persevere, 30 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Ragtime (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
The first half of the book just about held my interest, the second half had me frantically turning the page. A fascinating story beautifully interwoven. The character of Coalhouse was particularly engaging and reminded me of Richard Wright's Bigger Thomas at times. The novel succeeds not only in entertaining, but also in asking deeper questions of race, society and class.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating insight of time in history, 11 Mar 2014
By 
D. Sivyer (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
a very enjoyable and fastcinating insight into the lives and times of pre 1st world war America. This felt like several books rolled into one, focusing on various levels of society, celebrity, crime and relationships and well known moments from history.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars American realist, 8 Mar 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Ragtime (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
This is a clearheaded portrait of an era we've all heard so much about. Through Hollywood movies and general fiction we are lead to believe that Gangsters ruled and everyone was laughing, drinking and dancing but who swept the streets? Who baked the bread? Doctorow opens up a richer vision of an era by focusing on three families, one black, one Jewish and one white middle class. We still get a History through the headline acts, such as J.P.Morgan, Harry Houdini & Henry Ford but also of changing philosophies through feminism and emancipation as America exploded into the 20th Century. It should be read by every American teenager & adult! (if it's not already) and others besides. Now an established classic with good reason.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Layers of America, 11 Aug 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
First published in the 1970s this is a brilliant, vivid, daring story of the ragtime era - a time that defines the American character with all its contradictions. Here real figures like Houdini, Freud, Ford and Emma Goldman mingle with a gallery of New Yorkers, from struggling immigrants to fifth avenue millionaires. Written in a short-sentence, rhythmic style echoing the style of the book's title, Ragtime is an unmissable classic from a giant of American contemporary literature.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Ragtime (Penguin Modern Classics)
Ragtime (Penguin Modern Classics) by E. L. Doctorow (Paperback - 2 Feb 2006)
£6.99
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews