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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
I was reviewing the interesting plot in "Plot Against America" with my sister-in-law, and decided to pass my copy of it along to her. Read morePublished 1 day ago by P. Blake
This novel does not have much credulence, especially since it is written by a half-dim, bald guy who thinks that he's actually an author. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Bartok Kinski
Quite a what if book. What if the Nazis won everywhere. Chilling but well written. I want to read more Phillip Roth books.Published 2 months ago by L. Blandford
A book that tries to re-write the past in terms of paranoid events must be clearly exceptional to be otherwise than an exercise in paranoia. This isn't. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Edwin B. Spievack
Holds your attention from page one. Also makes you realize how lucky we are to live in a free country.Published 3 months ago by Marsha Graham
Philip Roth's novel "The Plot Against America" looms to the reader firstly as an interesting historical experiment: what if a Nazi sympathizer were elected president in 1940? Read morePublished 3 months ago by Doktor Faustus
Interesting alternative reality book. Not really sure that I enjoyed the way it was written, but that is only my personal preference.Published 4 months ago by Greg B
overwrought and overwritten with emotion from time to time, but very, very clever overall; exceptional research and understanding under pins the storyPublished 5 months ago by Henry Bright
This book makes you think about how much was at stake during the pre WWII era. What if the US had not fought? A compelling book.Published 6 months ago by Sandra Rumbler