The Plot Against America Paperback – 6 Oct 2005
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The Plot Against America is further affirmation of Philip Roths 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. Roths 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 weve just read. A visionary, turbulent work of literature. --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"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
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.
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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is an alternative history novel postulating what if Charles Lindbergh had become president in the 1940s as seen through the eyes of a Jewish boy in New Jersey. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
This is, quite simply, my favourite book ever. It's a genuinely believable alternate history that is that rare thing: a literary book which is also a real page-turner. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Paul Richards
This is writing of the highest order, with superb characterisation and exquisite plotting. A gem of an alternative history book. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Captain Kirk
Very pedantic and difficult to read. In my view a waste of a very good plotPublished 6 months ago by David Hay
Very excellent service in all respects. This is a genuine report. EGLPublished 7 months ago by AEIdreep1
What a great book. Almost a page turner. Shame I never read it before. A very good idea with the underlying theme of being Jewish in America. Read morePublished 11 months ago by brian ingram
Philip Roth is incapable of writing an inelegant sentence. His characters are again beautifully drawn, especially Alvin, who returns from war with only one leg and rotting... Read morePublished 15 months ago by charles duncan