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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
Interesting to bring a hypothetical past into the present for reflection.Published 7 days ago by Ina Ouang
Very good historical novel about World War II and if the US had taken an isolationist path and not reelected FDR. Read morePublished 12 days ago by Norm Saunders
I gave five stars because I like P. Roth 's writing. However I find his books hard to read out loud as the long, crammed sentences are hard to scan.Published 17 days ago by srarback
Excellent revision of history. It believably could have happened. I appreciate that it had a lot of true history. A definite page turner .Published 1 month ago by P S Marshall
I was baffled at times by how Lindbergh was used in the story and thought that whole concept left something to be desired. Read morePublished 1 month ago by kjk
About the persecution of the Jews in Europe and the possibility of the United States being infiltrated due to Charles Lindberghs affiliations with the Nazi party before the US... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Gertrude S. Kimble
A very disturbing and interesting book. I have not lived in America, but films and books I have seen and read tell me that the story of this book probably have a lasting relevance... Read morePublished 3 months ago by David Leskes
After getting through 150 pages, I determined this book to be too boring to even continue reading it. Read morePublished 4 months ago by SWJ