E.L. Doctorow
The Book of Daniel
January 25, 2019 Comments.. 167
The Book of Daniel The central figure of this novel is a young man whose parents were executed for conspiring to steal atomic secrets for Russia His name is Daniel Isaacson and as the story opens his parents have been

  • Title: The Book of Daniel
  • Author: E.L. Doctorow
  • ISBN: 9780812978179
  • Page: 463
  • Format: Paperback
  • The central figure of this novel is a young man whose parents were executed for conspiring to steal atomic secrets for Russia.His name is Daniel Isaacson, and as the story opens, his parents have been dead for many years He has had a long time to adjust to their deaths He has not adjusted Out of the shambles of his childhood, he has constructed a new life marriage to anThe central figure of this novel is a young man whose parents were executed for conspiring to steal atomic secrets for Russia.His name is Daniel Isaacson, and as the story opens, his parents have been dead for many years He has had a long time to adjust to their deaths He has not adjusted Out of the shambles of his childhood, he has constructed a new life marriage to an adoring girl who gives him a son of his own, and a career in scholarship It is a life that enrages him.In the silence of the library at Columbia University, where he is supposedly writing a Ph.D dissertation, Daniel composes something quite different.It is a confession of his most intimate relationships with his wife, his foster parents, and his kid sister Susan, whose own radicalism so reproaches him It is a book of memories riding a bus with his parents to the ill fated Paul Robeson concert in Peekskill watching the FBI take his father away appearing with Susan at rallies protesting their parents innocence visiting his mother and father in the Death House.It is a book of investigation transcribing Daniel s interviews with people who knew his parents, or who knew about them and logging his strange researches and discoveries in the library stacks.It is a book of judgments of everyone involved in the case lawyers, police, informers, friends, and the Isaacson family itself.It is a book rich in characters, from elderly grand mothers of immigrant culture, to covert radicals of the McCarthy era, to hippie marchers on the Pen tagon It is a book that spans the quarter century of American life since World War II It is a book about the nature of Left politics in this country its sacrificial rites, its peculiar cruelties, its humility, its bitterness It is a book about some of the beautiful and terrible feelings of childhood It is about the nature of guilt and innocence, and about the relations of people to nations It is The Book of Daniel.

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      463 E.L. Doctorow
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      Posted by:E.L. Doctorow
      Published :2019-01-25T20:04:38+00:00

    1 Blog on “The Book of Daniel

    1. Paul Bryant says:

      Governing emotion : white-hot angerUnderneath that : confusion (for the characters, for the reader)Style : I’m EL Doctorow and it’s 1971 and society is caving in and I’m gonna put anything I like in my novel, chunks of political analysis, satires of hippy revolution, childhood memoir, denunciations of the old left, lists of candy bars I once ate. And I'm gonna drop from first person to third person and back again sometimes in mid-sentence. Live with it, baby! This is the way novels are the [...]

    2. Solistas says:

      "Κάθε άνθρωπος είναι ο εχθρός της χώρας του. Κάθε χώρα είναι ο εχθρός των πολιτών της"Είναι δύσκολο να φανταστώ πως υπάρχει συγγραφέας που γράφει καλύτερα ιστορικά μυθιστορήματα απ'τον Doctorow (έχω βέβαια μια αδυναμία στην παρέα των Ιταλών που υπογράφουν ως Luther Blissett/Wu-Ming) αλλά [...]

    3. Sarah says:

      I bring this book almost every time I talk to writers or editors. The story was almost secondary to the incredible way the book was written. I wonder though if someone could read this alongside Atlas Shrugged and have a nervous breakdown, or an epiphany. Maybe both. The way point of view and tenses shifted so fluidly was really something to study. If an author ever wonders why his switches in either aren't working I direct them to this book to see why this one worked so well. I ask editors all t [...]

    4. Patrick says:

      This is a fictionalised account of the execution of the Rosenbergs told through their son a decade later.ELD shifts the perspective and addresses the relationship between the sovereign state and the individual,modern American history,it's politics and movements and its judicial system and of course the Cold War.The characterisation and dialogue are strong.Written In 1971 the themes of this novel may still be relevant in modern America.

    5. Derek says:

      ***SIGH*** Damn. Wow. What a novel. What a work of genius. Wow. Without a doubt this must be one of the greatest literary masterpieces ever written. The Book of Daniel is a work of genius like no other. It's sad and harrowing and breaks your heart with its sincerity cruelty, and deft perception and revelation of the human condition striped of all pretensions. It's a political novel, but that's not all it is. It's a novel about family, but goes well beyond that marginal construct. It's all encomp [...]

    6. ☮Karen says:

      The Rosenbergs'  trial and executions took place before I was born, and I had only a passing knowledge of their story heretofore. The couple left behind two little boys who I assume did not have an easy go at life after losing their parents.  That true story is the foundation of this novel, only here the name is Isaacson and the children are Daniel and his younger sister Susan.  Daniel indeed is affected by the news-making events of his childhood, as he reveals in this "autobiography" which h [...]

    7. Panos says:

      Το δεύτερο μυθιστόρημα του Doctorow που διαβάζω (πρώτο ήταν το Ragtime). Πρόκειται για αριστούργημα: καλογραμμένο, με σύνθετη δομή και αριστοτεχνική σκιαγράφηση των χαρακτήρων. Περιστρέφεται γύρω από τον ίδιο άξονα με το Ragtime: την επανεξέταση της ιστορίας, όχι βάσει της επίσημης κα [...]

    8. Summer says:

      I loved the prose style, and the subject matter was heavy and riviting, but this book suffered from having an utterly unlikeable narrator and from that irritating brand of misogyny that one so often sees in the writing of progressives in that era. Every woman in this book, including the narrator's mother and sister, is described in terms of her fuckability. And let's not forget the sexual violence! I suppose this is supposed to make the narrator levels of complexity, a tortured aspect, a counter [...]

    9. Fabian says:

      One Original American classic. (Is there something to denote just how close to the perfect five stars this work truly is?) The type of novel Europeans, Latin Americans, and all other world Masters tremble at. One can say this novel is absolutely magical Devastating and lifeaffirming. Art-affirming. Definitely my favorite novel by Mr. Doctorow.

    10. Jeff Jackson says:

      One of the great political novels. An emotional jeremiad about the fallout from the Rosenberg spy case and Communist witch hunts, viewed from turbulent perspective of the late 1960s. Much more radical in terms of both structure and content than Doctorow's reputation would lead you to believe. A harrowing howl of a book that's been overshadowed by famous lesser work.

    11. Steve says:

      To date, this is the best Doctorow book that I've read (the other two being Ragtime and Billy Bathgate, both of which left me underwhelmed). But I'm not sure what that signifies? Doctorow, as is usually the case with this author, has latched on to an historical event -- here it is the trial and execution of Soviet spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg (yes, they were spies) -- changed some names and characters, and built himself a novel. And it's an interesting novel, up to a point. Considering it wa [...]

    12. Steven says:

      Ficitional account of the events surrounding Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Although this book was written much later, it was assigned as part of my "Law and Literature" class in law school to represent the period of the 1950s and it could not have been a better choice.So many people think of the 1950s in America with such fondness as a simpler time wherre things were great for everyone. Well, not really. It certainly wasn't so great if you were black and it certainly was not so great it you were a [...]

    13. Vit Babenco says:

      To hunt hunters need game… And witch hunters need witches… If there are no real witches then the ordinary people may always be dyed as the ones.“It’s too fucking hot. This fucking city is like an oven. You want to know what was wrong with the old American Communists? They were into the system. They wore ties. They held down jobs. They put people up for President. They thought politics is something you do at a meeting. When they got busted they called it tyranny. They were Russian tit suc [...]

    14. Nagisa Furukawa says:

      What can I honestly say about this book? My words can't do it justice!It was a story, it taught me history and politics of America It pained me, it caused me to cringe and my face to contort at some events and descriptions and all. It confused the hell out of me because of its multiple narrators: Daniel himself, third person, then Daniel addressing the reader Reading the book was a labor on its own, I had to be careful and pay attention to ever detail all through the story so that I wouldn't mis [...]

    15. Derrick says:

      Well, the style was certainly a shock to me, as I typically read the classic romantics. I had just finished reading "Death in Venice" prior to this book, where even abhorable acts suck as pedophilia are presented in such a passive way, and with such tact, that they almost seem respectable, or at least understandable. So the overtly upfront sexuality (male dominant sexuality) and courseness of this book sort of smacked me upside the head at first. Once I adjusted I did begin to enjoy the book, th [...]

    16. Ellen Lee says:

      a stunning book to start off the new year. im inspired, im angry, im so so sad.

    17. Bucket says:

      I really enjoyed the premise here - that Daniel is procrastinating on his dissertation and what we're reading is what he is writing instead. It's clear that he's reliving his and his sister's childhood because it's the only thing he can write while his sister is fading. He unconsciously switches from 3rd person to 1st in his writing and he holds places for vignettes and scenes he wants to add later. He also gets a little meta about the reader, especially when discussing things that make him look [...]

    18. Kaycie says:

      There was one point in "The Book of Daniel" where I thought that every American needed to read it, and was going to recommend it that strongly. I got THAT into it. TBoD touches on hysteria in America as it pertained to a fictional Rosenberg-like couple as told through the eyes of their son Daniel. This book was also published only roughly a decade out from the Rosenberg executions, so it was written in the heart of the communist hysteria. Crazy good look at hysteria and what it does to people an [...]

    19. Fatma says:

      it's gonna be a no from me

    20. Kristin says:

      Brilliant. One of the best books written about the "event" that was the Rosenbergs (read with Kushner's "Angels in America" and [for a heaping of sardonic satire] Coover's _The Public Burning_). Doctorow draws us into questions of self, nation, and other that feel particularly relevant during this time of "patriot acts." A must-read for anyone interested in postwar American lit.

    21. Natalie says:

      Eventually I imagine I will find a novel by a baby boomer about something to do with the 1960s that will not annoy the shit out of me, but that day is not yet here. Also worth noting is the casual misogyny of mid- to late-20th-century male writers. That angry explicitness about sex and the female body, what is that? Am I supposed to be impressed or shocked by it?

    22. Brian Kovesci says:

      It is what it is. A work of fiction which explains, in detail, the life of a man, specifically his relationship with his family. K.

    23. Mimi says:

      There are two parts to this novel that are very hard to reconcile. The first element is an amazing fiction (it was contemporary at the time it was written, although now I'd consider it historical fiction) filled with religious imagery, fabulous thoughts on the Red Scare, the effect of a treason charge on the children of the person, our government's culpability, and the legal process. I'd give this part of the novel 4 starsThe second part was that this novel is extremely cruel, violent, and misog [...]

    24. Stefan says:

      If there is anything that E.L. Doctorow can be faulted for is his unrelenting ambition. The Book of Daniel is only his second published work, but he does things with it that an author penning his 50th wouldn't, in his or her right mind, pursue. The novel is written as a rough draft for a graduate school dissertation by the book's protagonist Daniel Rosenberg - son of alleged Communist spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. In his largely autobiographical dissertation Daniel writes about the tumultuou [...]

    25. Lennie says:

      Daniel grew up in a poor family living in the Bronx. His dad, Paul, owned a struggling radio repair business and his mom, Rochelle, was a housewife. Both his parents were full of radical passion and loyal to the Communist Party but for them it was a bad time in history to be “Red”. In America, there was a fear of Communists taking over. Daniel’s parents found themselves being hounded by FBI agents who harassed them with questions and staked-out their home. They even searched Paul’s place [...]

    26. Molly Jones says:

      This is one of my all-time favorite books. I've read it at least four times and have enjoyed it more with every read. This book causes one to question what it is to be American--what are our principles and how do we stand by them or abandon them during times of international uncertainty. In Doctorow's fictionalized version of the Rosenberg case, he clearly takes the liberal side of things and implies that the Rosebergs (here, Isaacsons) weren't actually guilty of anything, but instead used as sc [...]

    27. Ash Cb says:

      This has to be one of the most overwhelming books I've ever read. I just started cause of the plot, and I gotta say that it took me a while to adjust myself to the style. I haven't read anything more from Doctorw (and looking forward) but I kind of sense that it is his way: double speeches from the same character at the same time but with different voices, inner reflections, informative summaries, historical refferences (that represented a challenge cause of my ignorance 'bout american political [...]

    28. Charly says:

      The Rosenberg case is disturbing, revealing of 1950s America, and hugely important to learn about. Go pick up a biography of the actual Rosenbergs rather than this pile of misogyny, pretentious, and hippie-era self-hating PoMo trash. If this were written by Norah Whatshername, everyone would agree that it is sexploitative, woman-hating ridiculousness. Fine, there are touching moments, like when they run away from the institution, and Doctorow is a technically gifted writer: still, a protagonist [...]

    29. Lindsay says:

      February 2010: This book is not doing much for me so far. It makes me want to punch the narrator in the face. I will probably finish it eventually because it fits in my purse quite nicely, but in the meantime I'll be reading other things, too.July 2010: Okay, I finally made it through this. I think maybe the story might possibly have been interesting, but I was too distracted by wanting to do violence to the narrator to really be able to tell you what happened. He does get beaten up at least onc [...]

    30. Ian says:

      For what I thought was going to be a bitter polemic against American society in 1971, I felt Doctorow was surprisingly even handed. The Cold War execution of the Rosenbergs is more than echoed in Daniel Isaacson's parents. But despite the obvious loaded dice of the authorities in stitching up his parents (whether they did pass secrets to the Russians or not is almost irrelevant), their naive communist faith is exposed as much as the fatuous Hippie protests. Daniel's sister's hospitalisation and [...]

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