Customer Review

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Counter-factual history, thankfully, 29 April 2006
This review is from: The Plot Against America (Paperback)
This is a remarkably convincing counter-factual history of the United States between 1940 and 1942 and how it impacted on the seven to nine year old boy who was Philip Roth at the time. In that version of history, the 1940 presidential election was won by the American folk-hero and aviator Charles Lindbergh on a programme of keeping the United States out of the war against Hitler into which Roosevelt was thought to be steering the country. Lindbergh subsequently met Hitler in Iceland to seal American neutrality. That fact made many Jews, including Philip's father, accuse Lindbergh of being an antisemitic fascist, and that in turn made those Americans who wanted to keep out of the war accuse the Jews of wanting to drag America into it, and fanned antisemitic feelings to such an extent that Jews came to feel very insecure.

In actual history, Lindbergh was indeed something of an admirer of Hitler and had been awarded a decoration by him, and he was a prominent member of the America First Committee, founded to oppose Roosevelt's interventionist polices and to promote American isolationism. Historically also Lindbergh had been disturbed by the influence of Jews in the media, and he did single out the Jews as a pressure group trying to push America into the war.

In the novel, Lindbergh's antisemitic policies are much subtler than Hitler's: he simply sponsors programmes to make them 'more American' by inducing them to move out of the strongly Jewish areas on the East coast into the Mid-West. A prominent Jewish rabbi is a confidant and a regular visitor to the White House, and he defends the President against the charge of being antisemitic; the press carries a letter from Mrs Lindbergh to the rabbi in which the First Lady pays tribute to the great spiritual strength of the Jewish people. Towards the end of the novel we find an ingenious, if rather far-fetched, invention which explains this moderation, and which it would be a spoiler to reveal in this review. In any case, Lindbergh's more strident Jewish opponents, most prominent among them the journalist and broadcaster Walter Winchell, are not convinced. (The novel is full of American public figures who really existed). Nor must I reveal the way in which the author eventually brings the novel to a point where the real history we know can be resumed (which, incidentally, forces Roth to misdate Pearl Harbour).

But before American history is 'back on track', we do see an America in which the sense of menace is growing and in which Jews do indeed come to be in deadly peril, with pogroms, riots, and murders. And one feels it could really have happened like this.

Against this background we have the life of the child Philip, in which he has many other things to think about than the political situation which so involves his parents and the older members of his family. The sense of danger does get through to him, of course, but at times we are as much involved in the importance of his stamp-collection, his relationship with his elder brother and his cousin, the tricks he gets up to with a school friend etc. So although this is primarily a political novel, it is at the same time a novel about childhood preoccupations, and a compelling read on both scores.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 


Review Details

Item

4.1 out of 5 stars (55 customer reviews)
5 star:
 (25)
4 star:
 (18)
3 star:
 (7)
2 star:
 (3)
1 star:
 (2)
 
 
 
8.99 6.29
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Reviewer


Location: London United Kingdom

Top Reviewer Ranking: 190