The Book of Daniel

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Overview

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.

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1972-09-01 Softcover Fair N.

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New York 1972 Paperback 1 Very Good with no dust jacket 0451069188; Inv. # JAN000667I.

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The Book of Daniel: A Novel

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Overview

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 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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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451069184
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/1/1972
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 5.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

E. L. Doctorow

E. L. DOCTOROW was born in 1931 in New York City and was educated at Kenyon College and Columbia University. His earlier novels are Welcome to Hard Times and Big as Life. Formerly editor-in-chief of a prominent New York publishing house, he was most recently writer-in-residence at the University of California at Irvine. He lives in Westchester County with his wife and three children.

Biography

E. L. Doctorow, one of America's preeminent authors, has received the National Book Critics Circle Award (twice), the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Edith Wharton Citation For Fiction, and the William Dean Howells medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has also published a volume of selected essays Jack London, Hemingway, and the Constitution, and a play, Drinks Before Dinner, which was produced by the New York Shakespeare Festival. He resides in New Rochelle, New York.

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Group (USA).

Good To Know

Doctorow began his career as a reader for Columbia Pictures. He went on to work as an editor for New American Library in the early 1960s, and then served as chief editor at Dial Press from 1964 to 1969.

Critics assailed Doctorow for delivering a commencement address critical of President George W. Bush at Hofstra University in May 2004.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Edgar Lawrence Doctorow (full name; named for Edgar Allan Poe)
      Edgar Laurence Doctorow
    2. Hometown:
      Sag Harbor, New York, and New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 6, 1931
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      A.B., Kenyon College, 1952; postgraduate study, Columbia University, 1952-53
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

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(3)

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2002

    shrewd and startling

    This book is a tantalizing historical fiction peace that answers the question of what ever happened to the children of the Rosenberg's (killed for treason). The book is written in a manner that seems confusing but makes sense--a doctorate student making notes to improve a thesis of sorts.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Please don't recycle

    I read "World's Fair" last week, written in 2002(?). Same grandmother right down to a word for word description of her crazy antics in the neighborhood as "The Book of Daniel". Also, a pedestrian killed by a car crashing into the woman and sending her through the school fence spilling milk and blood into the school yard. The basement "Williams" character right down to the coal chunking incidence same as in "WF".

    Please Mr. Doctorow, give the reader some semblence of intellegence. Remember if we like one of your books we are inevitably destined to read another of your novels. Recycling plastic bottles, bags and glass is honorable. Recycling entire paragraphs from previous novels is contemptable.

    As an avid reader of late 19th century/early 20th century novels, I often come across similar characters and scenario, but never a blatant word for word diatribe.

    While I regard "Daniel" as a provokeing novel; inticicing our fundimental rights as humans, while reminding us that we are really all animals at heart, I wish Mr. Doctorow would have spent a few more hours writing a few different characterizations.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2010

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    Posted September 20, 2009

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    Posted May 18, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2011

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