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The Plot Against America: A Novel Hardcover – October 5, 2004
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How Adolph Hitler managed to seduce the nation that produced so geniuses like Goethe and Beethoven always baffled me. I could not fathom why the Nazis found it worth their while to capture and kill my blind old great-grandmother in their concentration camp. A writer myself, I wrote my own novel about the era, and I went to a couple of those camps (Dachau and Buchenwald) and let the horror of them sear my soul so that I would never forget, nor would I allow anyone else, who let me, forget. And so I highly recommend this work by Philip Roth--who happens to be a damned great writer as well as a passionate advocate against fascism.
The author does an outstanding job of filling in detail how such a thing could happen in the US, and he does it far better than anything I have ever read. It is utterly and completely believable and does not require the usual stretch of imagination because unlikely or implausible events and coincidences occur. I could not find the big, glaring errors and silly assumptions that one must accept as suspension of disbelief in most novels and movies. The book does not allow the new President to reach extremes like concentration camps or mass murders, but his acts toward the Jews are ominous as he moves and isolates them. His use of the Department of Justice to nudge the US into a police state is subtle and convincingly frightening as well.
So far, a wonderful novel. Now for the problem. About 80% through the book, the author apparently lost interest or became tired, because he quickly stops the progress of all the suspenseful events without providing a climax or a closure. He simply ends his writing. The beautiful logic he uses in building the plot, step-by-step, each with believable detail, vanishes. Roth hurriedly ends the book with discussion of some fuzzy theories of what the American people think might have happened with their President. The reader, in fact, cannot figure out what happened to the President, to the little Jewish boy, or to the country. The expected ending simply does not occur. So what happened? What came after? The reader will see some theoretical possibilities, but none are actually established as to what occurred. It is utterly unsatisfying.
Yes, it is still good reading and worth the tiny price ($.01 plus $3.95 shipping). But be prepared for the book tailing off into not much of anything.
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If anything, I think Roth backs off his theory that this could happen here -- I don't...Read more