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The Book of Daniel (Picador Books) Paperback – 10 Dec 1982

4.7 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Paperback, 10 Dec 1982
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; New edition edition (10 Dec. 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330269593
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330269599
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 1.9 x 12.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,143,642 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

" A ferocious feat of the imagination . . . Every scene is perfectly realized and feeds into the whole- the themes and symbols echoing and reverberating." - Newsweek " A nearly perfect work of art, and art on this level can only be a cause for rejoicing." - Joyce Carol Oates " This is an extraordinary contemporary novel, a stunning work." - San Francisco Chronicle " The political novel of our age . . . the best work of its kind." - New Republic " Remarkable . . . One of the finest works of fiction." - Minneapolis Star Tribune " Stirring, brilliant, very moving." - Houston Post "From the Hardcover edition."

Book Description

The classic novel of an America inflamed by Cold War hysteria. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
It is one of the strengths of 'The Book of Daniel' that you don't need to be a student of twentieth century American politics to understand it. As Jonathan Freedland explains, "Doctorow does not use his characters to reveal his politics; he uses politics to reveal his characters." His short introduction will give you enough background to have confidence to turn the first page, after which the protagonists' life-stories provide the rest.

Daniel's communist parents, based on the real-life Rosenbergs, have been executed for passing secrets to the Soviet Union at the height of the 1950s McCarthyite fever when America seems to have lost the plot. And he has survived growing up without them. Barely. Hardly more stable than his hospitalised sister, his story-telling steers you straight into choppy waters. The stiff narrative breeze rarely slackens, veering wildly from one era to another and from Daniel in `journal' mode to a more distant third person . When you finally reach dry land, don't be hard on yourself if you feel a little disoriented, exhilarated and queasy in equal measure, much as if you have been pushed overboard after daring to question whether anyone has a firm grip on the democratic-capitalist rudder.

The book's destabilising atmosphere is undoubtedly one of its successes. The boot-strapping legal system that seems to admit circular arguments as evidence, the confusion of children so casually picked up by the state that has made their parents vanish, the inadequacy of the mental health system and the non-content of the anarchist, anti-system rhetoric: all make it harder to get one's bearings.
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Format: Paperback
E.L Doctorow's most prevalent skill as a writer, apparent in most, if not all of his novels, is to heave American History, breathing, writhing and alive, directly onto the printed page. `The Book of Daniel' demonstrates the way in which the writer achieves this remarkable feat.

Doctorow's novel is a fictionalised account of the trial and execution of the Rosenbergs, an American communist couple who were found guilty of conspiracy to overthrow the U.S government by disclosing atomic secrets to the Soviet Union. The fictional counterparts to Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are Paul and Rochelle Isaacson. Apart from some minor differences, the events of the novel largely reflect those of the Rosenberg case. The Isaacsons, like the Rosenbergs, are put to death at the end of the novel, by means of electric chair.

Like the inevitable eruption of Vesuvius in Robert Harris's 'Pompeii', the impending doom of the Isaacsons is inevitable, and the tension is slowly elevated as the plot slowly unravels to this grisly denouement. Although we know throughout that the Isaacsons can not and will not be saved, the importance of the novel rests in how the novel's protagonist Daniel, the son of Paul and Rochelle, attempts to come to terms with the events of a case which becomes one of the most important political events of the 20th Century. The Isaacsons becomes objects in a political tug-of-war; to those on the right they are traitors to their nation, to the communists they become martyrs. Doctorow constantly reminds of this conflict between the human and the political; that the Rosenbergs were not just political symbols; they were human beings, and most importantly, parents.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This deals with the arrest and trial and subsequent execution of the Rosenburghs and the effects their incarceration had on their two children . The book is written from the perspective of Daniel and explores the Macarthy period with great insight and telling observation. If anyone needed to be convinced why the death penalty should be abolished in America, then the description of both their deaths is essential reading. Horrendous period in American history - but with the rising inequality in the USA today the book still has relevance on Americans ideas on freedom and the pursuit of happiness!
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Format: Paperback
without going into the story details, i just want to say how fine this book is.
moving in its account of the aftermath of the execution of the parents upon the children.
gripping, even though as it's based, loosely, on fact and you know what's going to happen - or some of what's going to happen.
surprising and deft in its jumping between time frames, which are never obscure or confusing.
brilliant in its writing, in the phrases, the beauty of the language and the grit of it.
there are some memorable analyses of the society in which the events unfold, and some unforgettable phrases.
on of my favourite paragraphs is when the narrator lists various "traitors" to the american ideal, putting at the top edgar allan poe who he describes as:"the master subversive who wore a hole in the parchment (of the constitution) and let the darkness pour through...."
the rest of the passage is too long to quote, but is brilliant ending:"it's poe who ruined us, that scream from the smiling face of america."
i would read this if i were you.
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