The Plot Against America

The Plot Against America

by Philip Roth


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400079490
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/27/2005
Series: Vintage International Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 16,012
Product dimensions: 5.16(w) x 7.94(h) x 0.89(d)
Lexile: 1640L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Philip Roth (1933-2018) was one of the most decorated writers in American history, having won the National Book Critics Circle Award twice, the PEN/Faulkner Award three times, the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize in fiction, and many more. He also won the Ambassador Book Award of the English-Speaking Union and in the same year received the National Medal of Arts at the White House. In 2001 he received the highest award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Gold Medal in Fiction, given every six years "for the entire work of the recipient."

In the 1990s, Philip Roth published five major works: Patrimony (1991) won the National Book Critics Circle Award; Operation Shylock (1993) won the PEN/Faulkner Award; Sabbath's Theater (1995) won the National Book Award; American Pastoral (1997) won the Pulitzer Prize; and I Married a Communist (1998) won the Ambassador Book Award of the English-Speaking Union.  In 1998, he was a White House recipient of the National Medal of Arts.

About the reader:

Ron Silver, a Tony award-winning stage actor, has starred in numerous films including Reversal of Fortune, and Enemies: A Love Story, as well as the television series Wiseguy.  He was a founder of The Creative Coalition, and President of Actors' Equity Association.



Date of Birth:

March 19, 1933

Place of Birth:

Newark, New Jersey


B.A. in English, Bucknell University, 1954; M.A. in English, University of Chicago, 1955

Read an Excerpt


June 1940–October 1940

Vote for Lindbergh or Vote for War

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.

When the first shock came in June of 1940—the nomination for the presidency of Charles A. Lindbergh, America's international aviation hero, by the Republican Convention at Philadelphia—my father was thirty-nine, an insurance agent with a grade school education, earning a little under fifty dollars a week, enough for the basic bills to be paid on time but for little more. My mother—who'd wanted to go to teachers' college but couldn't because of the expense, who'd lived at home working as an office secretary after finishing high school, who'd kept us from feeling poor during the worst of the Depression by budgeting the earnings my father turned over to her each Friday as efficiently as she ran the household—was thirty-six. My brother, Sandy, a seventh-grader with a prodigy's talent for drawing, was twelve, and I, a third-grader a term ahead of himself—and an embryonic stamp collector inspired like millions of kids by the country's foremost philatelist, President Roosevelt—was seven.

We lived in the second-floor flat of a small two-and-a-half-family house on a tree-lined street of frame wooden houses with red-brick stoops, each stoop topped with a gable roof and fronted by a tiny yard boxed in with a low-cut hedge. The Weequahic neighborhood had been built on farm lots at the undeveloped southwest edge of Newark just after World War One, some half dozen of the streets named, imperially, for victorious naval commanders in the Spanish-American War and the local movie house called, after FDR's fifth cousin—and the country's twenty-sixth president—the Roosevelt. Our street, Summit Avenue, sat at the crest of the neighborhood hill, an elevation as high as any in a port city that rarely rises a hundred feet above the level of the tidal salt marsh to the city's north and east and the deep bay due east of the airport that bends around the oil tanks of the Bayonne peninsula and merges there with New York Bay to flow past the Statue of Liberty and into the Atlantic. Looking west from our bedroom's rear window we could sometimes see inland as far as the dark treeline of the Watchungs, a low-lying mountain range fringed by great estates and affluent, sparsely populated suburbs, the extreme edge of the known world—and about eight miles from our house. A block to the south was the working-class town of Hillside, whose population was predominantly Gentile. The boundary with Hillside marked the beginning of Union County, another New Jersey entirely.

We were a happy family in 1940. My parents were outgoing, hospitable people, their friends culled from among my father's associates at the office and from the women who along with my mother had helped to organize the Parent-Teacher Association at newly built Chancellor Avenue School, where my brother and I were pupils. All were Jews. The neighborhood men either were in business for themselves—the owners of the local candy store, grocery store, jewelry store, dress shop, furniture shop, service station, and delicatessen, or the proprietors of tiny industrial job shops over by the Newark-Irvington line, or self-employed plumbers, electricians, housepainters, and boilermen—or were foot-soldier salesmen like my father, out every day in the city streets and in people's houses, peddling their wares on commission. The Jewish doctors and lawyers and the successful merchants who owned big stores downtown lived in one-family houses on streets branching off the eastern slope of the Chancellor Avenue hill, closer to grassy, wooded Weequahic Park, a landscaped three hundred acres whose boating lake, golf course, and harness-racing track separated the Weequahic section from the industrial plants and shipping terminals lining Route 27 and the Pennsylvania Railroad viaduct east of that and the burgeoning airport east of that and the very edge of America east of that—the depots and docks of Newark Bay, where they unloaded cargo from around the world. At the western end of the neighborhood, the parkless end where we lived, there resided an occasional schoolteacher or pharmacist but otherwise few professionals were among our immediate neighbors and certainly none of the prosperous entrepreneurial or manufacturing families. The men worked fifty, sixty, even seventy or more hours a week; the women worked all the time, with little assistance from labor-saving devices, washing laundry, ironing shirts, mending socks, turning collars, sewing on buttons, mothproofing woolens, polishing furniture, sweeping and washing floors, washing windows, cleaning sinks, tubs, toilets, and stoves, vacuuming rugs, nursing the sick, shopping for food, cooking meals, feeding relatives, tidying closets and drawers, overseeing paint jobs and household repairs, arranging for religious observances, paying bills and keeping the family's books while simultaneously attending to their children's health, clothing, cleanliness, schooling, nutrition, conduct, birthdays, discipline, and morale. A few women labored alongside their husbands in the family-owned stores on the nearby shopping streets, assisted after school and on Saturdays by their older children, who delivered orders and tended stock and did the cleaning up.

It was work that identified and distinguished our neighbors for me far more than religion. Nobody in the neighborhood had a beard or dressed in the antiquated Old World style or wore a skullcap either outdoors or in the houses I routinely floated through with my boyhood friends. The adults were no longer observant in the outward, recognizable ways, if they were seriously observant at all, and aside from older shopkeepers like the tailor and the kosher butcher—and the ailing or decrepit grandparents living of necessity with their adult offspring—hardly anyone in the vicinity spoke with an accent. By 1940 Jewish parents and their children at the southwestern corner of New Jersey's largest city talked to one another in an American English that sounded more like the language spoken in Altoona or Binghamton than like the dialects famously spoken across the Hudson by our Jewish counterparts in the five boroughs. Hebrew lettering was stenciled on the butcher shop window and engraved on the lintels of the small neighborhood synagogues, but nowhere else (other than at the cemetery) did one's eye chance to land on the alphabet of the prayer book rather than on the familiar letters of the native tongue employed all the time by practically everyone for every conceivable purpose, high or low. At the newsstand out front of the corner candy store, ten times more customers bought the Racing Form than the Yiddish daily, the Forvertz.

Israel didn't yet exist, six million European Jews hadn't yet ceased to exist, and the local relevance of distant Palestine (under British mandate since the 1918 dissolution by the victorious Allies of the last far-flung provinces of the defunct Ottoman Empire) was a mystery to me. When a stranger who did wear a beard and who never once was seen hatless appeared every few months after dark to ask in broken English for a contribution toward the establishment of a Jewish national homeland in Palestine, I, who wasn't an ignorant child, didn't quite know what he was doing on our landing. My parents would give me or Sandy a couple of coins to drop into his collection box, largess, I always thought, dispensed out of kindness so as not to hurt the feelings of a poor old man who, from one year to the next, seemed unable to get it through his head that we'd already had a homeland for three generations. I pledged allegiance to the flag of our homeland every morning at school. I sang of its marvels with my classmates at assembly programs. I eagerly observed its national holidays, and without giving a second thought to my affinity for the Fourth of July fireworks or the Thanksgiving turkey or the Decoration Day double-header. Our homeland was America.

Then the Republicans nominated Lindbergh and everything changed.

For nearly a decade Lindbergh was as great a hero in our neighborhood as he was everywhere else. The completion of his thirty-three-and-a-half-hour nonstop solo flight from Long Island to Paris in the tiny monoplane the Spirit of St. Louis even happened to coincide with the day in the spring of 1927 that my mother discovered herself to be pregnant with my older brother. As a consequence, the young aviator whose daring had thrilled America and the world and whose achievement bespoke a future of unimaginable aeronautical progress came to occupy a special niche in the gallery of family anecdotes that generate a child's first cohesive mythology. The mystery of pregnancy and the heroism of Lindbergh combined to give a distinction bordering on the divine to my very own mother, for whom nothing less than a global annunciation had accompanied the incarnation of her first child. Sandy would later record this moment with a drawing illustrating the juxtaposition of those two splendid events. In the drawing—completed at the age of nine and smacking inadvertently of Soviet poster art—Sandy envisioned her miles from our house, amid a joyous crowd on the corner of Broad and Market. A slender young woman of twenty-three with dark hair and a smile that is all robust delight, she is surprisingly on her own and wearing her floral-patterned kitchen apron at the intersection of the city's two busiest thoroughfares, one hand spread wide across the front of the apron, where the span of her hips is still deceptively girlish, while with the other she alone in the crowd is pointing skyward to the Spirit of St. Louis, passing visibly above downtown Newark at precisely the moment she comes to realize that, in a feat no less triumphant for a mortal than Lindbergh's, she has conceived Sanford Roth.

Sandy was four and I, Philip, wasn't yet born when in March 1932, Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh's own first child, a boy whose arrival twenty months earlier had been an occasion for national rejoicing, was kidnapped from his family's secluded new house in rural Hopewell, New Jersey. Some ten weeks later the decomposing body of the baby was discovered by chance in woods a few miles away. The baby had been either murdered or killed accidentally after being snatched from his crib and, in the dark, still in bedclothes, carried out a window of the second-story nursery and down a makeshift ladder to the ground while the nurse and mother were occupied in their ordinary evening activities in another part of the house. By the time the kidnapping and murder trial in Flemington, New Jersey, concluded in February 1935 with the conviction of Bruno Hauptmann—a German ex-con of thirty-five living in the Bronx with his German wife—the boldness of the world's first transatlantic solo pilot had been permeated with a pathos that transformed him into a martyred titan comparable to Lincoln.

Following the trial, the Lindberghs left America, hoping through a temporary expatriation to protect a new Lindbergh infant from harm and to recover some measure of the privacy they coveted. The family moved to a small village in England, and from there, as a private citizen, Lindbergh began taking the trips to Nazi Germany that would transform him into a villain for most American Jews. In the course of five visits, during which he was able to familiarize himself at first hand with the magnitude of the German war machine, he was ostentatiously entertained by Air Marshal Göring, he was ceremoniously decorated in the name of the Führer, and he expressed quite openly his high regard for Hitler, calling Germany the world's "most interesting nation" and its leader "a great man." And all this interest and admiration after Hitler's 1935 racial laws had denied Germany's Jews their civil, social, and property rights, nullified their citizenship, and forbidden intermarriage with Aryans.

By the time I began school in 1938, Lindbergh's was a name that provoked the same sort of indignation in our house as did the weekly Sunday radio broadcasts of Father Coughlin, the Detroit-area priest who edited a right-wing weekly called Social Justice and whose anti-Semitic virulence aroused the passions of a sizable audience during the country's hard times. It was in November 1938—the darkest, most ominous year for the Jews of Europe in eighteen centuries—that the worst pogrom in modern history, Kristallnacht, was instigated by the Nazis all across Germany: synagogues incinerated, the residences and businesses of Jews destroyed, and, throughout a night presaging the monstrous future, Jews by the thousands forcibly taken from their homes and transported to concentration camps. When it was suggested to Lindbergh that in response to this unprecedented savagery, perpetrated by a state on its own native-born, he might consider returning the gold cross decorated with four swastikas bestowed on him in behalf of the Führer by Air Marshal Göring, he declined on the grounds that for him to publicly surrender the Service Cross of the German Eagle would constitute "an unnecessary insult" to the Nazi leadership.

Lindbergh was the first famous living American whom I learned to hate—just as President Roosevelt was the first famous living American whom I was taught to love—and so his nomination by the Republicans to run against Roosevelt in 1940 assaulted, as nothing ever had before, that huge endowment of personal security that I had taken for granted as an American child of American parents in an American school in an American city in an America at peace with the world.

The only comparable threat had come some thirteen months earlier when, on the basis of consistently high sales through the worst of the Depression as an agent with the Newark office of Metropolitan Life, my father had been offered a promotion to assistant manager in charge of agents at the company's office six miles west of our house in Union, a town whose only distinction I knew of was a drive-in theater where movies were shown even when it rained, and where the company expected my father and his family to live if he took the job. As an assistant manager, my father could soon be making seventy-five dollars a week and over the coming years as much as a hundred a week, a fortune in 1939 to people with our expectations. And since there were one-family houses selling in Union for a Depression low of a few thousand dollars, he would be able to realize an ambition he had nurtured growing up penniless in a Newark tenement flat: to become an American homeowner. "Pride of ownership" was a favorite phrase of my father's, embodying an idea real as bread to a man of his background, one having to do not with social competitiveness or conspicuous consumption but with his standing as a manly provider.

Table of Contents

1June 1940-October 1940: Vote for Lindbergh or Vote for War1
2November 1940-June 1941: Loudmouth Jew44
3June 1941-December 1941: Following Christians83
4January 1942-February 1942: The Stump122
5March 1942-June 1942: Never Before153
6May 1942-June 1942: Their Country204
7June 1942-October 1942: The Winchell Riots237
8October 1942: Bad Days287
9October 1942: Perpetual Fear328
Note to the Reader364
A True Chronology of the Major Figures365
Other Historical Figures in the Work380
Some Documentation385

Reading Group Guide

“A terrific political novel. . . . Sinister, vivid, dreamlike. . . . Creepily plausible. . . . You turn the pages, astonished and frightened.”
The New York Times Book Review

The introduction, discussion questions, and suggestions for further reading that follow are designed to enhance your group’s discussion of Pulitzer Prize winner Philip Roth’s extraordinary new novel, The Plot Against America. Set in Newark, New Jersey, in the early 1940s, The Plot Against America tells the story of the Roth family and Jews across the country when the isolationist aviation hero Charles Lindbergh is elected president of the United States.

1. In what ways does The Plot Against America differ from conventional historical fiction? What effects does Roth achieve by blending personal history, historical fact, and an alternative history?

2. The novel begins “Fear presides over these memories, a perpetual fear” [p. 1]. With this sentence Roth establishes that his story is being told from an adult point of view by an adult narrator who is remembering what befell his family, over sixty years earlier, when he was a boy between the ages of seven and nine. Why else does Roth open the novel this way? What role does fear play throughout the book?

3. How plausible is the alternative history that Roth imagines? How would the world be different if America had not entered the war, or entered it on the side of Germany?

4. When the Roth family plans to go to Washington, young Philip wants to take his stamp collection with him because he fears that, since he did not remove the ten-cent Lindbergh stamp, “a malignant transformation would occur in my absence, causing my unguarded Washingtons to turn into Hitlers, and swastikas to be imprinted on my National Parks” [p. 57]. What does this passage suggest about how the Lindbergh election has affected the boy? Where else does this kind of magical thinking occur in the novel?

5. Herman Roth asserts, “History is everything that happens everywhere. Even here in Newark. Even here on Summit Avenue. Even what happens in this house to an ordinary man—that’ll be history too someday” [p. 180]. How does this conception of history differ from traditional definitions? In what ways does the novel support this claim? How is the history of the Roth family relevant to the history of America?

6. After Mrs. Wishnow is murdered, young Philip thinks, “And now she was inside a casket, and I was the one who put her there” [p. 336]. Is he to some degree responsible for her death? How did his desire to save his own family endanger hers?

7. Observing his mother’s anguished confusion, Philip discovers that “one could do nothing right without also doing something wrong” [p. 340]. Where in the novel does the attempt to do something right also result in doing something wrong? What is Roth suggesting here about the moral complexities of actions and their consequences?

8. When Herman Roth is explaining the deals Hitler has made with Lindbergh, Roth comments, “The pressure of what was happening was accelerating everyone’s education, my own included” [p. 101]. What is Philip learning? In what ways is history robbing him of a normal childhood? Why does he want to run away?

9. What motivates Rabbi Bengelsdorf, Aunt Evelyn, and Sandy to embrace Lindbergh and dismiss Herman Roth’s fears as paranoia? Are they right to do so? In what ways do their personal aspirations affect their perceptions of what is happening?

10. In what ways are Bess and Herman Roth heroic? How do they respond to the crises that befall them? How are they able to hold their family together?

11. Roth observes that violence, when it’s in a house, is heartbreaking: “like seeing the clothes in a tree after an explosion. You may be prepared to see death but not the clothes in a tree” [p. 296]. What causes Herman Roth and Alvin to fight each other so viciously? What is it that brings the violence swirling around them off the streets and into the house? Why is violence in a home so much more disturbing than on the street or the battlefield?

12. Much is at stake in The Plot Against America—the fate of America’s Jews, the larger fate of Europe and indeed of Western civilization, but also how America will define itself. What does the novel suggest about what it means to be an American, and to be a Jewish American? How are the Roths a thoroughly American family?

13. What does the postscript, particularly “A True Chronology of the Major Figures,” add to the novel?

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The Plot Against America 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 95 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A must read for all fans of 'alternative history!' Mr. Roth places himself within the 'what if?' story line to great effect. Excellent notes provide a great historical backdrop for any reader. Thrilling, frightening, and captivating!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This novel was disturbing, frightening, and all to realistic. When I read what unfolded in American life under Lindburgh's presidency, it was like being slammed in the head by a two by four. How could this happen here? The book is a blueprint for disassembling our democracy. A great read!
MacPoster More than 1 year ago
Roth's conception of Lindbergh's rise to power in a frightened pre-World War II America is inventive, compelling and provocative, and brilliant in its exploration of the power of political positioning to stir up native passions. It is also potently evocative of an America we know all too well -- one scared by political machinations into action against its better long-term interests, where fear rules the day. Bushism, anyone? Most powerfully of all, in the details through which Roth tells his story, is how convincing his tale is, and how insightfully he traces the nuances of political relationships and mass messaging to show us how the powers that be manipulate crowds. From the Jewish Newark, NJ community that is the locus of his vivid and disturbing American isolationism to the echelons of power out of which the plans to defend this country against engagement in foreign affairs -- nevermind the Fascists, nevermind the Communists -- Roth has woven a tale whose experiences resonate far after the book is closed. Thanks to Roth's skill, it's also somehow fun in its own perverse way to see so completely, in the safety of knowing it didn't happen, how an alternative America might have emerged.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Philip Roth's "The Plot Against America" is a fantastic book. The parallel world that he creates in the difficult World War II era is exhilerating and eerily realistic. Warping major historical events to fit his terrifying yet possible timeline. Apart from the horrific war that is twisting the country out of shape, the characters in Philip's house are dynamic and colorful. His paranoid, stereotypically Jewish mother reigns in her lower middle class house, warning and worrying. Philip's father is equally stereotypical, the simple American man working hard to get ahead, optimistic in the face of new diversity, jaded after being the victim of ancient prejudice. Roth's personal account of our could be-history is equally heartbreaking and terrifying. The idea of the bursting of prejudices in America causing all-out war within the country is frightening, and disturbs the image we have of America as an imperturbable fortress. Roth's book is a quiet collection of events that may have happened- in an America that was in the eleventh hour of order.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Not like any Roth I have read before -- I dreaded reading more but at the same time could not stop myself. Takes the 'it could never happen here' attitudes head on and in all too vivid and realistic ways makes it clear that it simply could and often almost does. Should be required reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the first Philip Roth novel I've read and I must say I wasn't that impressed. His other novels like 'Portnoy's Complaint' are on my list but with this first one, I'm not running to it very quickly. The entire concept is a great one an alternate America for only a short period of time, dominated by one of the most hateful groups of all-time. But Roth didn't make the story, I don't know how to put it into words, jump out enough. As one person said before, the book lagged and although the plot was there, it sluggishly proceeded. When there was action, I was deeply intrigued but then it stopped and nothing happened for awhile. Maybe I have to give it another read, maybe I missed something but for now, I am somewhat disappointed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was recommended this novel by my English teacher, and having finally got around to reading it, find it extremely perceptive and insightful writing. The entire premise, the mythical election of Charles Lindbergh as president may seem like a farfetched and unbelievable fantasy, but I found myself reading along as if the events were historically accurate and truly happened. The book subtley portrays both social and familial strains that Lindbergh's new anti-Semitic administration cause. The story very well conveys the sentiments of a culture still wrestling with the fallout and depravation of a previous world war, its reticence to welcome further international aggression, and its willingness to harbor isolationist feelings if it means bloodshed, slaughter, and betrayal will be avoided. Also, Philip Roth depicts the American Jewish family with incredible poignancy, and we see a father struggling with the elusive principles that once structured his life, but now are powerless against bureaucratic conniving and pointed anti-Jewish retribution...a mother whose logical, systematic, and omnipresent approach to childrearing is now challenged by the breakdown of her own family and the undoing of former achievements which gave an otherwise subservient household wife purpose...and two boys whose erudition, on one hand, enforces principles promoting the homogenization of Americans and the diluting of Jewish bonds, and on the other, paternal dictates directly opposite society's lessons which render their father both impassioned and powerless. All of these factors internal and external contribute to the debilitation of their family and many others alike. However, the end hints at an American populous which, despite seemingly irreversible fascist influences, will not yield to anything other than freedom.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Professional reviews praise this book as an incredible read. Unfortunately I do not agree, it was simply to boring for me, nothing really ever happened, throughout the whole book we expect to get a feeling of how America would be under a Nazi regime, how hard core anti-Semitism would feel in America, it was too slow and too full of unnecessary detail. But worst of all the writer did not leave very much room for suspense, sense most of the chapters began with describing what had happened and then how it happened, we always knew what was coming¿.or in better words, what was not coming because for me nothing ever happened. Sorry to disagree with other readers but it was painfully slow and boring to me.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought this book with great expectations. The synopsis was great, the reviews were great so I was hopeful that I would be glued to this book until it was done. What I found upon opening the pages, was a very poorly written or poorly edited book. Chapter one was filled with long run on sentences. I tried to get past this but was unable to. I scanned the other chapters and found the same. I tried 3 different times to read this book and just couldn't do it. It is good to see that others were able to overlook the long and rambling run-ons.
RoseCityReader on LibraryThing 30 days ago
The Plot Against America by Phillip Roth is a What If? historical novel. The idea is that, instead of FDR, anti-semitic Charles Lindbergh gets elected President in 1940, after running on a strong isolationist platform. It¿s a good yarn, and I¿m a Roth fan, so I found it very enjoyable.Politically, it was interesting because, while the Republicans were the anti-semitic bad guys and the heroes were the liberal Jewish family of the charming 9-year old narrator (little Phillip Roth), the message was that it is wrong for America to turn its back on evil, especially if that evil will then infiltrate America. It seemed to me that the lesson Roth was trying to get across was that liberals can be hawks, and should be to protect the American way of life.Maybe that lesson seemed clearer to me because I listened to the audio book and Ron Silver was the narrator. Silver describes himself as a ¿9-11 Democrat¿ and is a robust hawk in the war on terror.Very entertaining, as much for the central story as for the side stories about being a young, Jewish kid in Newark in the 1940s. Worth reading. Or, better yet, listening to¿Silver does an incredible job.
name99 on LibraryThing 30 days ago
Not bad at all. You cannot help but read it with one eye on the present. Conversely, a reminder of that the ugly side of America has always been with us.
marient on LibraryThing 30 days ago
When the renowned aviation hero and rabid isolationist Charles A. Lindbergh defeated Franklin Roosevelt by a landslide in the 1940 presidential election, fear invaded every Jewish household in America. Not only had Lindbergh, in a nationwide radio address, publicly blamed the Jews for selfishly pushing America toward a pointless war with Nazi Germany, but, upon taking office aat the thirty-third president of the United Statees, he negotiated a cordial "understanding" with Adolf Hitler, whose conquest of Europe and whose virulent anti-Semitic policies he appeared to accept without difficulty.What follows in America is the setting for the book which recounts what it was like for a Jewish family in Newark when American citizens who happeded to be Jews had every reason to expect the worst.
MacsTomes on LibraryThing 30 days ago
Whats all the fuss about? This is not that great a book! Recieved a mountain of publicity. The premise is very intriguing but Roth fails to deliver.
midlevelbureaucrat on LibraryThing 30 days ago
liked this book. Liked it from the moment I heard the premise and to finally finishing it. A wonderful "what-if" fable that seems to warn against our current trend toward theocratic fascism and blind faith in our ruling elite in the US today. Great book, though the ending left me wanting more.
prof_brazen_guff on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I was waiting to read this for a long time, and yet again Roth didn't disappoint. By presenting an alternative history of a fascist America during World War 2, Roth exposes the fascistic leanings in American society which exist even to this day, tendencies which make his version of history look chillingly plausible.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Left the legacy of anxiety, after a lot of good scene setting that promised more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm writing this on 2016 after a famous anti semitic racist fascist demagogue has won the preliminary electoral college vote (as of this writing he hasn't won in fact). The description of Lindbergh's nomination and the Jewish community's reaction is spot on. There is nothing the author didn't get right. I've only the sample so far. Hopefully the author doesn't continue to be so prophetic as 2016 turns into 2017 and beyond.
Man_Of_La_Book_Dot_Com More than 1 year ago
The Plot Against Amer­ica by Philip Roth is a fic­tional book set in Amer­ica 1940s. This is the first Philip Roth book I have read, and I am look­ing for­ward to read much more. Philip Roth, a Jew­ish child in Newark NJ, observes the world around him as Charles Lind­bergh, known anti-Semite, avi­a­tion super­star and sup­porter of a cer­tain Aus­trian mad­man, is elected Pres­i­dent of the United States. Lind­bergh is pop­u­lar in the Amer­i­can south and Mid­west, as well as endorsed by pop­u­lar con­ser­v­a­tive Rabbi Ben­gels­dorf and wins eas­ily over Roo­sevelt who is run­ning for an unprece­dented third term. The Roth fam­ily starts to feel like out­siders, anti-Semities no longer feel they need to hide, Lind­bergh signs a treaty with Hitler to stay out of the war and relo­cates whole Jew­ish fam­i­lies to the Mid­west. Mean­while, famed reporter and radio per­son­al­ity, Wal­ter Winchell, runs against Lind­bergh for the high­est office in the country. The Plot Against Amer­ica by Philip Roth is an alter­na­tive his­tory novel which asks an ques­tion: what if Amer­ica had elected a fas­cist gov­ern­ment before World War II? The novel is told from the point of view of a young Philip Roth from Newark, NJ and his Jew­ish fam­ily who refuse to believe that such a thing could hap­pen in Amer­ica and see their lives fall apart. The ques­tions raised by this novel are excel­lent, and I would highly rec­om­mend it to any book club in need of an inter­est­ing book to discuss. What makes this book great is that the per­spec­tive is told from that of a lit­tle kid. Mr. Roth exam­ines a world gone mad through the eyes of a young boy and… he nails it! I don’t know if part of the book is a mem­oir or not, it cer­tainly seems like it, but the author does look back at 1940s Newark with nos­tal­gia and love. This book came to me at a most oppor­tune time, I just fin­ished read­ing the excel­lent Swastika Nation: Fritz Kuhn and the Rise and Fall of the German-American Bund by Arnie Bern­stein which exam­ines the Amer­i­can Nazi move­ment at the time that Roth’s novel tak­ing place. Those two books which com­ple­ment one another tremen­dously (the same char­ac­ters make appear­ances in both) have really opened my eyes to the real­iza­tion of how many peo­ple were on the wrong side of history. While I enjoyed the major­ity of the book, which I thought was bril­liant, the last 50 pages lost me. Some­how it seems that Mr. Roth was rush­ing to fin­ish this excel­lent book, when I would have gladly read another 800 pages in the same vain.
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seldombites More than 1 year ago
Written like an autobiography, this novel portrays an interesting alternative history. Like any normal autobiography, there are periods where life is dull and the story becomes a little slow, but overall the book is quite readable. One thing I particularly liked about this, is the fact that the author included a section at the end relaying the actual history. It saved me lots of googling time!