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The Plot Against America by Philip Roth
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The Plot Against America (2004)

by Philip Roth

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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6,254141644 (3.7)334
Recently added byprivate library, Jernsaksa, gpartha, BookAddictUK, averheij, davidgn, tsgood, mostlyboring, catgiamatti
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» See also 334 mentions

English (122)  French (6)  Dutch (3)  Swedish (2)  Danish (2)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Portuguese (1)  German (1)  Catalan (1)  Hebrew (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  All languages (141)
Showing 1-5 of 122 (next | show all)
Good story and a shuddering hint of "it could happen here". But Roth is better as a novelist than a counter-factual historian. The Jewish family with honest worthy dad and homebuilding Mom and mixed brew of brothers and cousins come to life, as does the gradual encroachment of fear as America turns into a Jew-baiting dystopia under the imagined presidency of Lindbergh. Incidents of panic and disaster, with some comic and ironic twists are also vivid. But the figure of Lindbergh , who appears to act as a lone idol while good as story doesn't quite convince. The trouble with people like Hitler (and the others) is their mastery of the machinery of politics, the levers of power; Lindbergh remains just a figurehead. Also there are some boring bits with lists of names and places where trouble breaks out; to give documentary feel, i suppose, but it doesn't. And Roth releases the tension about 2/3 through, revealing that Lindbergh disappears (deus ad machina ) and all went back to normal, but then goes on recounting various disasters. A straight nail biting narrative would be much better. ( )
  vguy | Jun 11, 2015 |
The premise of "The Plot Against America" is that FDR lost his bid for the third presidential term in 1940 and in his place, Charles Lindburgh was elected Commander-in-Chief. The historical Lindburgh was an isolationist who made some notoriously anti-Semitic statements and expressed admiration for Hitler. This sets in place a plot line that America under a Lindburgh presidency is put on track for a proto-Nazi regime.

The story is told from the perspective of a Jewish family living in New Jersey. And Roth is at his best detailing the day-to-day tensions within the family brought on by events and their reactions to them. This is no "Red Dawn" story of the takeover of America by foreign powers. Roth is right in his approach that if fascism ever overtook America, it would happen gradually, subtly, insidiously. Americans would get seduced into it, not conquered by it. Jews feel it because all those subtle moves affect them directly. Politics within the family are the most absorbing thing about the book.

Roth is not so strong painting the larger canvas of what's happening in Washington and the White House. Indeed, by the end, the events he depicts become pretty over-the-top.

The ending, in fact, feels pretty abrupt. It's as if Roth feels he just needs to bring the book to an end and manufactures an event that tries to neatly dismiss everything that's previously happened. America experienced a brief nightmare, then suddenly one day it's all over. The family story is brought to a rapid, sudden conclusion as well. That was unsatisfying. But until those last couple of chapters, tension was high and the story was very absorbing. ( )
  kvrfan | Apr 25, 2015 |
An alternative history about what might have happened if Charles Lindbergh defeated Franklin Roosevelt in 1940. The story is told from the perspective of a Jewish family living in Newark, primarily through the eyes of seven-year-old Philip Roth. Young Roth brings a fresh, precocious perspective, and Author Roth intricately explores how seemingly innocuous acts can become widespread anti-Semitism.

This was my first book by Roth. I was sure what to expect - male angst, perhaps. But I ended up enjoying this book quite a lot. The events were anchored in historical fact, making seemingly far-fetched events seem all too possible. ( )
  porch_reader | Aug 30, 2014 |
This is a case of the power of a story being able to carry the reader along through some rather strangled, overbearing prose. That's not to say it's badly written, just that Roth seems to enjoy crafting sentences in as oblique a way as possible. But his creation of an alternate history, one in which Charles Lindbergh, isolationist and Nazi sympathizer, defeats FDR to become President in 1940 and what that means for America and especially its Jewish population, is fascinating. From the personal (a family trip to Washington, DC being overshadowed by hints of anti-Semitism) to the sweeping (a Federal program designed, essentially, to break up Jewish centers of activity in urban areas), Roth explores the consequences of what could have been. It doesn't always work, but when it does, it's riveting. ( )
  katiekrug | Aug 17, 2014 |
I'm not a big fan of alternate histories because I prefer the "real thing." Roth has given us a "what if" scenario in which Charles Lindbergh wins the 1940 United States presidential election instead of FDR and sides with the Nazis. It shows what is going on in the Jewish community through the eyes of the author. The writing is strong for a great portion of the book, but then Roth tries to wrap the book up too quickly and loses his momentum. The plot just kind of fizzles out, falling flat. Roth did include a true chronology of events by persons mentioned in the book in his epilogue. ( )
  thornton37814 | Aug 6, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 122 (next | show all)
Philip Roth has written a terrific political novel, though in a style his readers might never have predicted — a fable of an alternative universe, in which America has gone fascist and ordinary life has been flattened under a steamroller of national politics and mass hatreds.
added by danielx | editNew York Times, Paul Berman (Dec 29, 2014)
 

» Add other authors (41 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Philip Rothprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kooman, KoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Línek, JosefTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mantovani, VincenzoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zwart, JannekeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0618509283, Hardcover)

"What if" scenarios are often suspect. They are sometimes thinly veiled tales of the gospel according to the author, taking on the claustrophobic air of a personal fantasia that can't be shared. Such is not the case with Philip Roth's tour de force, The Plot Against America. It is a credible, fully-realized picture of what could happen anywhere, at any time, if the right people and circumstances come together.

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:38 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In a novel of alternative history, aviation hero Charles A. Lindbergh defeats Franklin Roosevelt in the 1940 presidential election, negotiating an accord with Adolf Hitler and accepting his conquest of Europe and anti-Semitic policies.

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