Welcome to America at the turn of the twentieth century, where the rhythms of ragtime set the beat. 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.
E.L. Doctorow is one of America's most accomplished and acclaimed living writers. Winner of the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award (twice), the PEN/Faulkner Award, and the National Humanities Medal, he is the author of nine novels that have explored the drama of American life from the late 19th century to the 21st. Al Alvarez is a poet, literary critic, and author of many non-fiction books on topics ranging from suicide, divorce and dreams - The Savage God, Life After Marriage, Night - to poker and mountaineering - The Biggest Game in Town, Offshore. He was poetry editor of The Observer from 1956-66. He has contributed regularly to The New York Review of Books and The New Yorker. His most recent books are an autobiography, Where Did It All Go Right?, New & Selected Poems and The Writer's Voice. He lives in London.