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The Temple of Music

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In a starkly divided America, a Republican president seeks reelection in the afterglow of a controversial war. He is bankrolled by millionaires, with every step of his career orchestrated by a political mastermind. While terrorists plot the assassination of world leaders, a lonely, disturbed revolutionary stalks the President. . . . It all happened. One hundred years ago. In a starkly divided America, a Republican president seeks reelection in the afterglow of a controversial war. He is bankrolled by millionaires, with every step of his career orchestrated by a political mastermind. While terrorists plot the assassination of world leaders, a lonely, disturbed revolutionary stalks the President. . . . It all happened. One hundred years ago. It all comes to life in The Temple of Music. A vivid, gripping historical novel, The Temple of Music re-creates the larger-than-life characters and tempestuous events that rocked America at the turn of the century. It tells the tales of murder and romance, of robber barons, immigrants, yellow journalists, and anarchists, all centering around one of the most fascinating and mysterious events in American history: the assassination of President William McKinley. Sweeping in scope, The Temple of Music is a rare literary achievement that intertwines history and fiction into an indelible tapestry of America in the Gilded Age.


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In a starkly divided America, a Republican president seeks reelection in the afterglow of a controversial war. He is bankrolled by millionaires, with every step of his career orchestrated by a political mastermind. While terrorists plot the assassination of world leaders, a lonely, disturbed revolutionary stalks the President. . . . It all happened. One hundred years ago. In a starkly divided America, a Republican president seeks reelection in the afterglow of a controversial war. He is bankrolled by millionaires, with every step of his career orchestrated by a political mastermind. While terrorists plot the assassination of world leaders, a lonely, disturbed revolutionary stalks the President. . . . It all happened. One hundred years ago. It all comes to life in The Temple of Music. A vivid, gripping historical novel, The Temple of Music re-creates the larger-than-life characters and tempestuous events that rocked America at the turn of the century. It tells the tales of murder and romance, of robber barons, immigrants, yellow journalists, and anarchists, all centering around one of the most fascinating and mysterious events in American history: the assassination of President William McKinley. Sweeping in scope, The Temple of Music is a rare literary achievement that intertwines history and fiction into an indelible tapestry of America in the Gilded Age.

30 review for The Temple of Music

  1. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    Disappointing. I had hoped for a grand story that would teach me of another time. Disjointed, boring, and decidedly liberal in it's bias. I am more than half way through, but I don't know that I will finish it. It is just depressing to listen to. Disappointing. I had hoped for a grand story that would teach me of another time. Disjointed, boring, and decidedly liberal in it's bias. I am more than half way through, but I don't know that I will finish it. It is just depressing to listen to.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    That was one too many "back in the past, there is something happening at this minute" for me. Also just a little too gleeful in the multiple (in the first 60 pages, no less) descriptions of breast grabbing. That was one too many "back in the past, there is something happening at this minute" for me. Also just a little too gleeful in the multiple (in the first 60 pages, no less) descriptions of breast grabbing.

  3. 5 out of 5

    James

    Interesting, like a friend telling you that palm trees aren't technically trees. Boring, like a friend who doesn't know when to shut up about trees. Interesting, like a friend telling you that palm trees aren't technically trees. Boring, like a friend who doesn't know when to shut up about trees.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Carli

    This book is really good for a quick fiction read.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Luanne

    Lowy writes in a manner that is sensitive to the psychological, political, and social mores of his characters.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Marge

    Easy for me to read/follow from start/finish.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Myrna

    Normally I am not the fastest reader around, but this one I read fast.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kendall

    Overwrought and impossible to get into the flow, since it shifted points of view roughly every 1.5 pages, but I always learn something new from historical fiction.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Marvin

    It's the end of a century, the beginning of a new one. American business is spectacularly successful and is personified in the persons of Carnegie, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, et al. They have been so successful that they have succeeded, through the machinations of Mark Hanna, in buying a president, William McKinley. At the same time as American businessmen & politicians are convinced--or, at least, pronounce--that America's business success raises all boats, that "workingmen" have more purchasing It's the end of a century, the beginning of a new one. American business is spectacularly successful and is personified in the persons of Carnegie, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, et al. They have been so successful that they have succeeded, through the machinations of Mark Hanna, in buying a president, William McKinley. At the same time as American businessmen & politicians are convinced--or, at least, pronounce--that America's business success raises all boats, that "workingmen" have more purchasing power than ever, there is a widening gap between those at the top of the business ladder and those at the bottom. One of the differences between this turn of the century and the last, though, is that then there were very vocal and visible voices of dissent--socialists and anarchists, especially--even though they were often brutally suppressed. What this novel does well is to humanize all these forces & voices. On the first page we are introduced to Leon Czolgosz. Those of us who recognize that name know how this story will end, especially when we are introduced to William McKinley on p. 14. Other notable characters include Emma Goldman, Mark Hanna, William Randolph Hearst, Ambrose Bierce, Ida McKinley, and others of the time. The unique style, which I don't have the language to describe but which I found very appealing, is vivid & direct, with short sentences that make the story seem very action-driven, even though not a lot happens in terms of a plot. But someone needs to explain to me why so many contemporary novelists break their stories into short fragments that jump around in time, trusting us, just because they've labeled one passage "September 1892," to remember that its action actually occurs before the action described in a passage we read 50 pages earlier dated "August 1901." What is gained by this strategy? Do the authors not have faith that they can sustain a narrative written in chronological order? Still, this was not as confusing as it might have been, and the narrative somehow does build in intensity. And at least one passage is worth recording: When Thomas Edison's moving pictures are introduced at the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo in 1901, the author reflects, "Things repeat themselves: people, life, death. But here God is the cameraman's boss, Thomas Alva Edison, he who has done the old biblical Lord one better: made sound that outlasts the life of the voice, light that knows no darkness, and now has made people who do not die, whose images shall remain forever on the earth in celluloid. And, from that which he has created, the light and the phonograph and the moving pictures and so much else, he has made what any true God must make here in America. Money. Piles of the stuff" (343-44).

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jeruen

    I took a break from post-modern fiction and went back to another genre that I am fond of: historical fiction. The last time I read one, it was about Japan and the changes that occurred before, during, and after WWII. This time, I picked a novel that is close to home (currently, at least). It is entitled The Temple of Music by Jonathan Lowy, and this is a book that tells the story of the assassination of President William McKinley, right here in Buffalo, New York, back in 1901. Given that premise, I took a break from post-modern fiction and went back to another genre that I am fond of: historical fiction. The last time I read one, it was about Japan and the changes that occurred before, during, and after WWII. This time, I picked a novel that is close to home (currently, at least). It is entitled The Temple of Music by Jonathan Lowy, and this is a book that tells the story of the assassination of President William McKinley, right here in Buffalo, New York, back in 1901. Given that premise, this book actually tackles more than that. It tells the tale of republicanism in the United States, and the constant struggle between the rich landowners and factory owners against the working man who inhabited the tenements. Rich people have been buying votes, and women had no right to vote at all. The Negro is still a slave, and the working man earns so little and works so much. The 8-hour 5-day work week has not been installed yet. The main characters obviously include William McKinley, and his character is developed from the time that he was just a budding lawyer, who defended strikers, which then got the attention of mogul Mark Hanna, who became his election manager, by funding his campaign. At the same time, the character of Leon Czolgosz is developed, the book portraying his bleak background and unfortunate upbringing. Side characters involve the anarchists Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman, who partially influenced the thought of Leon Czolgosz. I do not know much about the historical events that surround the assassination of President McKinley here in Buffalo, but I assume that the author made a good job of being faithful to the real sequences of events. Perhaps that is why I like reading about historical fiction: history in itself seems to be a boring endeavor, but fictionalizing it at least perks up my interest that I am willing to put up with a book like this. In fact, I enjoyed reading this. It allowed me to reflect on how social norms have changed throughout the years. Women can vote now, buying condoms aren't a basis for indecency charges anymore (unlike what the Comstock Laws dictated back then), and people are more or less treated the same regardless of one's skin color. Humans have progressed so much from 1901. So, did I enjoy this book? Yes. I definitely recommend this, and I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Colby

    From Publishers Weekly Lowy's second novel (after Elvis and Nixon) is a scattered but compelling account of the assassination of William McKinley at the hands of Leon Czolgosz at the 1901 Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, N.Y. Czolgosz is an enigmatic figure, and Lowy does a good job of filling in the blanks with a failed love affair and moments of anguished alienation that explain in realistically messy terms why a man would commit such an extreme act. Lowy occasionally engages in commentary t From Publishers Weekly Lowy's second novel (after Elvis and Nixon) is a scattered but compelling account of the assassination of William McKinley at the hands of Leon Czolgosz at the 1901 Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, N.Y. Czolgosz is an enigmatic figure, and Lowy does a good job of filling in the blanks with a failed love affair and moments of anguished alienation that explain in realistically messy terms why a man would commit such an extreme act. Lowy occasionally engages in commentary that pushes beyond its usefulness as stage-setting—as in his distracting protest against the turn-of-the-century marriage of big business and politics—and he sometimes succumbs to pontification when encapsulating the era's clash of revolutionaries and robber barons. He makes up for this, however, in his colorful pictures of the era's giants: robust McKinley and his frail, haunted wife, Ida; megalomaniac newspaper magnate Hearst; eccentric socialite/condom peddler Morris Vandeveer; anarchist icon Emma Goldman; and McKinley's handler, "Dollar" Mark Hanna, gigolo father of the modern political campaign. In the end, the novel stays true to the mission of good historical fiction, which is to dispel the textbook notion of iconic events as either planned or inevitable. Czolgosz and McKinley are real people in Lowy's hands, motivated as much by love and fear as politics or ideology, and often confused as they unwittingly write the pages of American history.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mark Carley

    This is a pretty good historical novel. It deals with event leading up to the assassination of Pesident McKinley in 1901. the main characters are the President and his assassin, Leon Czolgosz. the account of Czolgosz' life is mostly fictional, as little is known about him. Emma Goldman, the anarchist leader, is also a major character. The book has a clearly left-wing perspective, but it does treat all it's characters with compassion. The narrative leading up to the fatal event is strong. Conditi This is a pretty good historical novel. It deals with event leading up to the assassination of Pesident McKinley in 1901. the main characters are the President and his assassin, Leon Czolgosz. the account of Czolgosz' life is mostly fictional, as little is known about him. Emma Goldman, the anarchist leader, is also a major character. The book has a clearly left-wing perspective, but it does treat all it's characters with compassion. The narrative leading up to the fatal event is strong. Conditions endured by American laborers at the end of the 19th Century is a strong theme and well argued. But while the tone is very anti-capitalism, the book offers no alternative solutions (just like Anarchy itself). The tone is really more tragic for all the characters caught up in a system raging out of control. My conservative friends may be annoyed by the book's overt leftism (I was in the early chapters), but the strong writing and intriguing glimpse into history make it worth reading.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    A really interesting novelization of America during McKinley's presidency, including his assassination. Lowy imagines the thoughts and ambitions of assassin Leon Czolgosz, Emma Goldman, and McKinley himself, among others. Every character is presented sympathetically, as the "Guilded Age" takes its toll on Americans in every class of society. The timeframe and structure reminded me of Ragtime, though this one isn't nearly as heartbreaking (despite the knowledge that McKinley's days are numbered). A really interesting novelization of America during McKinley's presidency, including his assassination. Lowy imagines the thoughts and ambitions of assassin Leon Czolgosz, Emma Goldman, and McKinley himself, among others. Every character is presented sympathetically, as the "Guilded Age" takes its toll on Americans in every class of society. The timeframe and structure reminded me of Ragtime, though this one isn't nearly as heartbreaking (despite the knowledge that McKinley's days are numbered). This period in history sometimes gets glossed over as we jump in our minds from the Civil War to the WWI, but these decades really shaped the modern US economy, ensuring that "the business of America is business." Good stuff.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    Temple of Music is a historical novel set at the beginning of the twentieth century. It chronicals the movements of Leon Czolgolsz, Emma Goldman, William McKinley, William Jennings Bryant, Eugene Debs, and the capitalists and political wanks behind the McKinley administration. Fun read for historical novel fans, especially those interested in the turn of the twentieth century and the anarchist and socialist movements in the U.S. at the time. It's not a piece of literary genius, but something eas Temple of Music is a historical novel set at the beginning of the twentieth century. It chronicals the movements of Leon Czolgolsz, Emma Goldman, William McKinley, William Jennings Bryant, Eugene Debs, and the capitalists and political wanks behind the McKinley administration. Fun read for historical novel fans, especially those interested in the turn of the twentieth century and the anarchist and socialist movements in the U.S. at the time. It's not a piece of literary genius, but something easy for an airplane ride, for example.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Based on the time and circumstances of President William McKinley's assasination. I found the book interesting. Character development in the novel was good. Historical angle is what interested me the most and I think the author does justice to setting the time period well. Based on the time and circumstances of President William McKinley's assasination. I found the book interesting. Character development in the novel was good. Historical angle is what interested me the most and I think the author does justice to setting the time period well.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Judith Kaufman

    Very, very disapointed in this book. Very disjointed. I kept at it only because I kept thinking it would get better....wrong.....I thought it was going to be more about McKinley. of a bio. It wasn't. Jumped around from person to person. Very, very disapointed in this book. Very disjointed. I kept at it only because I kept thinking it would get better....wrong.....I thought it was going to be more about McKinley. of a bio. It wasn't. Jumped around from person to person.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Juliet

    Enjoyed the history in this novel.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    A little too "busy" for me. I didn't like the switching of narratives every chapter. It is historically sound. The author definitely did his homework. A little too "busy" for me. I didn't like the switching of narratives every chapter. It is historically sound. The author definitely did his homework.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Laura Lee

    Well written in a different way. Enjoyed it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tim Brown

  21. 4 out of 5

    Katie K

  22. 4 out of 5

    Andie

  23. 5 out of 5

    Decker

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jon

  25. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Bowen

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ann

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Brower

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alicia

  29. 4 out of 5

    Shannon H

  30. 5 out of 5

    Soliman Alhabashi

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