In January 1, 1900, as Americans tried to divine the future of the twentieth century, what no one could foresee was that the issues they were dealing with were much the same as those that would face their grandchildren and great-grandchildren in the year 2000. Change had come so fast that there was an almost magical belief in the powers of science and technology. The country had never been more prosperous but the disparity between rich and poor had never been greater. Slavery was dead but racism was growing.
The narrative begins New Year's Day in Washington, D.C., as President McKinley shrugs off warnings that his life may be in danger. Never far from the seat of power is Theodore Roosevelt, "the coming American of the twentieth century." Throughout the year, as Crichton details one event after the other--the greatest mine disaster in American history; the banning of a salacious play; an historic election campaign; the Galveston flood; the Harvard-Yale football game; a great labor victory; the emergence of the first billion-dollar corporation--the forces of the future are moving into place.
From Chapter One:
New Year's Day
On January 1, in Washington, D.C., a fresh fall of snow about an inch deep was brightening the city. Skaters were out on the Potomac and in Rock Creek Park, horse-drawn sleighs moved through the woods in splendid isolation. At the Capitol, where the old gaslight posts had finally been removed, cinders were being scattered on the icy steps. With Congress in recess and the federal bureaus closed, the city was even quieter than usual. But midmorning the Sabbath-like stillness was broken by the warning gongs of trolleys as crowds crammed on streetcars heading for the White House.
The diplomatic corps was out in full regalia; there were more women wearing tiaras in the morning than even the oldest reporter could recall. Elegant carriages, their wheels creaking on the hard-packed snow, with coachmen and footmen on the box, jockeyed for position on Pennsylvania Avenue. At the edge of the city, in a curiously shaped modern studio, Frances Benjamin ...
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