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The Plot Against America Paperback – 6 Oct 2005

4.1 out of 5 stars 66 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (6 Oct. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099478560
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099478560
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 24,674 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

The Plot Against America is further affirmation of Philip Roth’s status as one of the most revered (and accomplished) of American novelists; another in a long line of highly impressive books that makes the days when he was know only for the masturbatory humour of Portnoy's Complaint seem every remote indeed. The new book is an astonishingly ambitious entry in the genre known as alternative history, and its re-imagining of a fascist America is as plausible and terrifying as previous alternative visions by such writers as Len Deighton and Kingsley Amis (not to mention the countless SF novelists such as Philip K Dick, progenitors of the genre, invariably irritated that their concepts are hijacked by more 'literary' novelists).

In The Plot Against America, the celebrated aviator Charles Lindbergh (almost as well known for his admiration for Hitler as for the famous kidnapping of his baby) becomes President of the United States, and history takes a very different course. Roosevelt soundly defeated, Lindbergh inaugurates an isolationist, anti-war regime, as radical social change ensues; not least the growth of anti-Jewish feeling, fanned by the anti-Semitic Lindbergh. Roth’s Jewish protagonist, Philip, watches as his parents try to ignore the growing threat around them--initially, family holidays are ruined as hotel rooms become mysteriously ‘unavailable’, but soon deportation and worse is the order of the day. Ultimately, a fightback against the new US fascism is slowly engendered.

All of this is handled with the mastery we now routinely expect from Roth, and both characterisation and plotting are structured with total assurance. All the historical detail is terrifyingly plausible, and the final sections (in which Roth reminds us what happened in the real America) seem no more persuasive than what we’ve just read. A visionary, turbulent work of literature. --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"A dark, humane masterpiece, Roth is at the peak of his powers" (The Times)

"Another frighteningly intense performance" (Sunday Telegraph)

"The word genius doesn't seem excessive... The Plot Against America creates its reality magisterially, in long, fluid sentences that carry you beyond scepticism" (Guardian)

"Untouchable...he is bequeathing us a body of work that adds up to the most accomplished dissection of American political, social and personal mores" (Observer)

"Magnificent. Roth is writing the best books of his life. He captures better than anyone the collision of public and private, the intrusion of history into the skin, the pores of every individual alive" (Guardian)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I must confess that I've never been much of a fan of Philip Roth's work, often finding him too rambling. This book, however, is nothing short of a masterpiece. The central idea is that Charles A. Lindbergh, the famous aviator and Nazi-sympathiser, wins the presidential election in 1936. Having campaigned against US involvement in the Second World War, he ensures that America stays out of what is seen as a European conflict.
The main character is Philip Roth, a young boy whose life revolves around his family: his hard-working father, his devoted mother, and an older brother who takes the side of the anti-semitic Lindbergh. Also in the frame is a cousin who goes off to fight in the war, and returns an amputee, and an aunt who is take in by the glamour of the new regime.
Wisely, Roth the writer steers clear of cataclysmic events. It would have been easy to include internment or concentration camps, but Roth concentrates on small events, the kind that defines our lives. The feeling of fear and paranoia is palpable, but we also see how ordinary, decent people can take a stand and make a difference.
I recommend this book strongly for its human understanding and compassion, as well as for its fine writing.
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Format: Hardcover
It is an oft-stated cliché that many families in the U.S. are but one or two paychecks away from poverty. Philip Roth's "The Plot Against America" suggests that perhaps U.S. society in 1940 (and perhaps again in 2004) one election surprise away from fascism. The Plot Against America also suggests that many families are but one step away from falling into dysfunctionality and despair. Although such a topic is susceptible of trite, formulaic prose, in the hands of Philip Roth it works remarkably well.
The story line is rather simple. Taking on the genre of alternate history (with which he shares with no small amount of irony at least some creative DNA with the conservative former Congressman Newt Gingrich, now an author of alternative history fiction), Roth imagines a United States in which Charles Lindbergh storms the deadlocked 1940 Republican Convention, upsets Wendell Wilkie (the actual non-isolationist Republican candidate) for the nomination, then barnstorms the nation in a novel election campaign that ousts Franklin Roosevelt from the White House. "Vote for Lindbergh or Vote for War" serves as the victorious campaign slogan. Slowly, but inexorably, U.S. isolationist policy grows stronger after it signs a non aggression pact with Germany and Japan. Britain grows weaker, and Lindbergh's cabinet and the Republican congress enact a series of laws that cause no small bit of consternation in America's Jewish community.
So far, there is nothing about the story line that is at all unusual in the alternate history genre. However, Roth writes his story through the eyes of one Phil Roth, youngest child of the Roth family of the Wequahic section of Newark. This alone sets The Plot apart from what is typically found in this genre.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a fantastic book. It takes an interesting premise (Charles Lindbergh defeating FDR in the 1940 US presidential election running on an anti-war & only slightly masked anti-Semitic agenda) and extrapolates the consequences.
The book is absolutely captivating from the start; it is beautifully written, the characterisation is amazing and the basic premise is handled consistently all the way through. It is a triumph.
Roth concentrates on a single family mainly through the eyes of youngest son Philip and examines the impact of this alternate history. He focuses on the small things (in a nod to Primo Levi?) rather than the wider political context; this is very effective as the tension and the horror build slowly but inexorably.
Things start small: a cousin goes to Canada and enlists (and returns having lost a leg), a family holiday is disrupted, the aunt and older brother effectively join the pro-Lindbergh movement and there is a Jewish resettlement program before the violence starts to escalate... Throughout, the sense of paranoia and fear is almost tangible, as is the misery and pain of a family being torn apart by conflicting allegiances.
A wonderful book, altogether plausible and all the more chilling for it.
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Format: 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.
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