Friday, July 22, 2016
From the ending of the the First World War...which saw the destruction of the traditional European order, the triumph of Einstein's new cosmology, the full impact of Freudianism, the establishment of the first Marxist state and the genesis of the great Marxist heresy, Facism.
We travel through the decades ....the rise of the two super-powers, locked in Cold War, the Communist revolution in China, the decolonization of Asia and Africa and the tragic aftermath of independence, the stunning recovery of democracy and capitalism in Western Europe, the rise of the Pacific enterprise economies led by Japan, the radicalizng of Latin America, the expansion of Soviet Russia as a global military power, the hegemony of the United States followed by its attempted suicide in the years 1965 - 80.
A very interesting read, it won't be for many left leaning folk, Johnson mounts attack after attack on leftist political thinking and shows it up for the sham that most hard left politics are.
But as a "go to" book of facts in one volume you'd be hard pressed to find a better one.
Sunday, July 10, 2016
This is an historical novel set at the beginning of the 20th century told mostly through the eyes of an anonymous narrator.
As normal in Doctorow's novels real people feature in fictionalisd settings. Here we have Houdini, Henry Ford and J. P. Morgan.
Most of the novel is set around the deprivations suffered by the poor and black when dealing with the huge industrialists that came to the fore at this time. It ends with one man trying to start a private war as a result of a huge injustice he endured.
Again, with many Doctorow novels he starts up a character who is given what appears to be a leading role but after a few chapters just disappears. You don't hear from them until a small explanation at the end of the book but that's him and he did this often.
A rear cover blurb on my copy states -Ragtime is the most acclaimed novel ever published- this is a major stretch " Billy Bathgate" and "The March" are both much better but this is quality and worth reading.