Racial tensions boiling; immigrants thrown on the fire. Anti-Semitism on the rise. Poison in the water. Industrialists raking in billions while the working poor struggle to make even the most modest of ends meet. No discernable signs of a middle class. Yes, these are the circumstances of E.L. Doctorow’s brilliant Ragtime, but they are also the circumstances in which we find ourselves living — cycling back with a stark symmetry to the world of America almost exactly one hundred years ago — a world in crisis, a world which cannot sustain itself.