Monday, January 4, 2010

50BC10 #1: Book of Daniel

The Book of Daniel The Book of Daniel by E.L. Doctorow
Genre: Fiction (based on historical events)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Pages: 368

This is not an easy book to read on many counts, mostly due to its historic truths and ability to turn larger narratives into personal mirrors. Doctorow does not resort to victimizing the Isaacsons (who represent Julius and Ethel Rosenberg), and there are no heroes. He unfolds the layers of complexity in the Rosenberg case by re-framing it more intimately, primarily from the perspective of the fictional Daniel. This is perhaps where the reader is the most sympathetic because he reminds us that traitors, villains, conspirators are also mothers, fathers, spouses, siblings. Daniel's character is the sum total of the worst consequences of American anti-Communism in the 1950s, carrying the current of the electric chair far beyond the execution room.