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The Plot Against America Paperback – September 27, 2005
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A network of beacons allows ships to travel across the Milky Way at beyond the speed of light. The beacons are built to be robust. They never fail. At least, they aren't supposed to. Learn more
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The Plot Against America explores a wholly imagined thesis and sees it through to the end: Charles A. Lindbergh defeats FDR for the Presidency in 1940. Lindbergh, the "Lone Eagle," captured the country's imagination by his solo Atlantic crossing in 1927 in the monoplane, Spirit of St. Louis, then had the country's sympathy upon the kidnapping and murder of his young son. He was a true American hero: brave, modest, handsome, a patriot. According to some reliable sources, he was also a rabid isolationist, Nazi sympathizer, and a crypto-fascist. It is these latter attributes of Lindbergh that inform the novel.
The story is framed in Roth's own family history: the family flat in Weequahic, the neighbors, his parents, Bess and Herman, his brother, Sandy and seven-year-old Philip. Jewishness is always the scrim through which Roth examines American contemporary culture. His detractors say that he sees persecution everywhere, that he is vigilant in "Keeping faith with the certainty of Jewish travail"; his less severe critics might cavil about his portrayal of Jewish mothers and his sexual obsession, but generally give him good marks, and his fans read every word he writes and heap honors upon him. This novel will engage and satisfy every camp.
"Fear presides over these memories, a perpetual fear. Of course, no childhood is without its terrors, yet I wonder if I would have been a less frightened boy if Lindbergh hadn't been president or if I hadn't been the offspring of Jews." This is the opening paragraph of the book, which sets the stage and tone for all that follows. Fear is palpable throughout; fear of things both real and imagined. A central event of the novel is the relocation effort made through the Office of American Absorption, a government program whereby Jews would be placed, family by family, across the nation, thereby breaking up their neighborhoods--ghettos--and removing them from each other and from any kind of ethnic solidarity. The impact this edict has on Philip and all around him is horrific and life-changing. Throughout the novel, Roth interweaves historical names such as Walter Winchell, who tries to run against Lindbergh. The twist at the end is more than surprising--it is positively ingenious.
Roth has written a magnificent novel, arguably his best work in a long time. It is tempting to equate his scenario with current events, but resist, resist. Of course it is a cautionary tale, but, beyond that, it is a contribution to American letters by a man working at the top of his powers. --Valerie Ryan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
One of America's most respected and prolific writers, Philip Roth masterfully captures the complexity of the modern American experience in his novels. Visit Amazon's Philip Roth Page.
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Top Customer Reviews
The story line is rather simple. Taking on the genre of alternate history (with which he shares with no small amount of irony at least some creative DNA with Newt Gingrich), Roth imagines a United States in which Charles Lindbergh storms the deadlocked 1940 Republican Convention, upsets Wendell Wilkie for the nomination, then barnstorms the nation in a novel election campaign that ousts FDR from the White House. Vote for Lindbergh or Vote for War serves as the victorious campaign slogan. Slowly, but inexorably, U.S. isolationist policy grows stronger after it signs a non aggression pact with Germany and Japan. Britain grows weaker, and Lindbergh's cabinet and the Republican congress enact a series of laws that cause no small bit of consternation in America's Jewish community.
So far, there is nothing about the story line that is at all unusual in the alternate history genre. However, Roth writes his story through the eyes of one Phil Roth, youngest child of the Roth family of the Wequahic section of Newark. This alone sets The Plot apart from what is typically found in this genre. Roth's examination of the lives of big events through the eyes of a `little' man creates a subcontext that is rife with meaning for anyone who has experienced the joys and despairs of a family in crisis.Read more ›
The story is told in a pseudo-autobiographical style through the eyes of young Philip Roth growing up in Newark, New Jersey during the time of the second world war. However, as the author points out early on, the fact that we know our history does not mean that our history is inevitable. In this story, pre-war isolationism finds an active political candidate in popular hero Charles Lindbergh, who wins the 1940 Republican presidential nomination and defeats Franklin Roosevelt in the general election. The new administration embarks on an isolationist foreign policy that culminates in secret accords with Germany and Japan that allow America to sidestep involvement in the war. The administration also begins a series of domestic policies that target the Jewish population for what is benignly called cultural absorbtion but may in fact be the harbinger of a domestic genocide. We see these things through the eyes of young Philip and his family, who try to separate suspicion and fear from paranoia as they sense their country turning against them.
The advancing menace and its impact on the family is well-portrayed.Read more ›
This is one of those "alternate history" novels. Only Roth's is more plausible (until the end) than say Harry Turtledove's "Guns of the South" where time travelers give machine-guns to the south in the civil war. Roth's scenario all turns on Charles Lindbergh running for president in 1940 and winning. I'm not sure Lindy could have beat an experienced politician and campaigner like FDR even if he had run, but that's not important.
Instead of focusing on Lindbergh, FDR, or any historical persons, most of the story revolves around Philip Roth and his family. (Because if there's a subject Philip Roth really loves it's Philip Roth.) Philip is 7 at the start of the book and lives in a flat with his older brother Sandy, his insurance salesman father, his stay-at-home mother, and his orphaned cousin Alvin.
After Lindbergh takes office, his parents--especially his father--fear that America will turn into a fascist state like Nazi Germany. He has reason to fear when Lindy signs an "understanding" with Hitler to maintain peace between them. Cousin Alvin goes off to Canada to join the British in opposing the Nazis while Sandy becomes smitten with Lindbergh after a stint on a Kentucky farm through the "Just Folks" program that sends urban kids--mostly Jews--to rural areas to spend a summer.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
There is a lot of alternative history (AH) out there, but this comes from avery mainstream author. It is a very good effort that goes a bit too heavy upon the characters personal... Read morePublished 11 days ago by Ross
eery parallels to Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and isolationist policies. however the plot wonders and about 3/4 of the way in takes a bizzare and unfullfilling turn.Published 17 days ago by Preston
Roth's talent for weaving multiple strands of a deep and realistic plot is amazing. Told as a boyhood tale, the book is a growing up story, a history lesson, and an excellent... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Brian Gockley
The Plot Against America
by Philip Roth
Philip Roth tells this story of chaos through the eyes of a child, one named Philip Roth. Read more
For all the best reasons I found this a depressing read against the current backdrop of a contentious presidential campaign year. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Robert Mosher
Roth's dystopian novel about a fascist-led United States of America in the 1940's is not without flaws, but it's an important work nonetheless for these current, troubled times. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Trobador
This alternate history lesson centers around a young Philip Roth living in a Jewish neighborhood in Newark, NJ. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Martin J Moore
When Philip Roth released this novel in 2004 he didn't know that he would be foreshadowing the rise of a Donald Trump eleven years later.
Then again, maybe he did...