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A Blazing Gilded Age: Episodes of an American Family and a Volatile Era Kindle Edition
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|Length: 510 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top customer reviews
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I have read some of DiSilvio's other work, and he consistently illustrates an amazing ability to create realistic dialogue between his characters, crafting authentic voices that truly seem to replicate the zeitgeist of an era through colloquialisms, thoughts, and phrasing, and exhibiting none of the crass, spurious, and poorly-researched dialogue typical of some attempts at historical fiction.
DiSilvio is truly a master of history, with a intimate knowledge of events both on a the grand, national scale, and on the more localized "small scale" of how history effects the average man or woman.
In this novel, he excels at portraying the stark extremes of capitalism as it existed America's Gilded Age, juxtaposing a mining tragedy that devastates the lives of downtrodden, impoverished, serfs, with the rich, glamorous excesses of the Long Island elite as they build their gaudy mansions and collect the antiquities of Europe in an attempt to out-do one another.
If you like the historical fiction of James A. Michener, and the social commentary of Don Delilo (who also wrote a book on the Gilded Age, Ragtime), I suggest this book for you.
This novel is extremely historically accurate (one of the reasons I love DiSilvio) and a mesmerizing tale of devastation, determination, hope, and progress. President Garfield also plays a role in the novel, championing civil rights (both for blacks and women) in the face of greedy bigots like Huxley. There are a lot of politics and well-known figures (T. Roosevelt, Twain, Guiteau, Tesla, Westinghouse, etc.) of the century woven seamlessly throughout the novel. I loved watching the Wozniak family transition from obscurity to a position where they could enact change in the nation.
Following a poor, struggling family into the Pittsburgh coal mines is quite an experience. This is what Rich DiSilvio does so well in this book. He delivers a solid story with every character fighting to get their way during the country’s transition into a modern nation.
They say every family is a particular world, a microcosm that tells a unique story. This family isn’t the exception. The protagonists of this novel, the Wozniak brothers, may be different and have their own personal agendas, but in the end they fight together and show us what being part of a family is all about.
If you like historical fiction, this is a compelling and original tale about the industrial growth of the United States and the role immigrants played at the time of such big changes. You can’t miss this read.
DiSilvio has an extraordinary ability to talk the language of the people who were living in that violent, cruel and aversive age - you can almost feel that you are among the life fighters who often rely on the law of the shotgun and are exposed to the wrath of the powerful.
This is a remarkable portrait of the way the U.S. were built and raised to the top of the world. If you had some illusions, let me break them for you - you don’t rise to the riches in a nice way - so, expect a lot of violence. Even if DiSilvio’s talent for potent language would have been lost in a screenplay, I imagine it would be spectacular to see all that action, conflict and drama in a movie plot. Great characters, deep and relatable, fill this book. Starting from Marc (Marcus), Ted (Tasso) and Stan (Stanislaw), the three Wozniak brothers, who, despite their differences, demonstrate what is a strong family, to the sociopathic Huxley, they would make a terrific, memorable story.
Marc is the one who is the strong foot of the family and who typically saves everyone from trouble. As the family tries to create their American dream, Marc turns out to be a clever polymath who uses his smarts to progress. From children mine laborers the brothers manage to get their own Tasso Coal company. But, there are deaths, rape, excruciatingly hard work, the worst mine explosions and an incredible description of a death penalty performed by electrocution along the way.
To illustrate the times in a charming way, famous Americans like JP Morgan and President Andrew Garfield, as well as Polish historical figures like the composer Antonin Dworak and the Nobel Prize winner Marie Sklodowska - Curie are woven into the saga.