'Ragtime' author E.L. Doctorow dies in New York at 84

NEW YORK — Few minds were as playful and as serious as E.L. Doctorow's.

Conjurer of old-time gangsters and ragtime stars. Commentator on wars and presidents and the laws of the land. Student of political and literary history and how they tell us who we are now.

Doctorow, who died Tuesday at age 84, was the rare American writer to move gracefully between lives as engaged citizen and solitary inventor.

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