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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
Very interesting. I thought the most impressive aspect of the book was the way the family dynamics were effected by events. Read morePublished 5 days ago by James Kerr
As is true of the twenty works by this author, this novel is sure to please the followers. Not a lot of dialogue. One must stretch to believe the plot. Read morePublished 12 days ago by Delene Bost
I wanted to like this novel. I like the idea. But too much verbiage. I read it on CD and kept skipping cuts. Lots of detail I didn't care for. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Wendy Vega
Igrew up in the suburbs of Newark , so it was shear fun for me.Published 19 days ago by Donald Newman
Philip Roth wrote this nightmare scenario--if Nazi-sympathetizer Charles Lindbergh had run against FDR and won in the 1940 election--is written as if Roth's real-life family and... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Robert Dinsmoor
This book could have been so much better. I liked the family story, and the alternate history made me think about the legacy of George W. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Petrea Burchard
I was astonished by this book on tape. It was so authentic and alarming. I identified and empathized with the protagonists. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Doc
This product showed in the book section, while it is an audio book - CD's moreover, which can't even play on my laptop...Published 2 months ago by tine destrooper